Danny Harper, Mount Desert Island’s Backside’s man in black, is back with a CD of original music that he says is his best effort to date.
“I’ve never been more excited about what I’ve done,” Harper said.
Released a week ago, “For the Love of Country” is a 12-song mix that mines many of the traditional themes of country music – heartbreak, patriotism and small-town life.
The CD follows Harper’s 2004 release “One More Time,” which marked a return to music after his career was put on hold following a family tragedy in 1993. If anything is going to revive “this old hillbilly’s career,” it’s “For the Love of Country,” he said.
“I think these are the best songs I’ve ever written,” Harper said. “I think it’s the best production I’ve ever had.”
The latter statement is high praise indeed. In the late 1980s, he recorded two albums in Nashville, under the supervision of some of the Music City’s legendary producers and recording engineers.
The CD was engineered by Andrew Clifford at Main Street Music Studios in Bangor. Harper began thinking about recording a new CD about a year ago, and after hearing another Clifford production, knew where it should be recorded.
Unlike in Nashville, Harper had complete creative control of the recording process.
“It’s truly me. It sounds like me,” he said. “In Nashville they try to make you sound different.”
And, he was able to handpick his accompanists, which included guitarist Kevin Overlock, Overlock’s brother Buzz on bass, pianist Chris Fyfe and steel guitar player Fred “Tommy” Thompson. Kayla Wass joined in on background vocals.
“I tried to pick the cream of the crop,” Harper said of the musicians. “They just nailed it.”
Recording began in late winter and was done as time allowed, working weekends and nights. They wrapped up the sessions in August, sending the recording off for final production in October.
With “For the Love of Country” behind him, Harper isn’t about to sit back in the saddle. He’s already at work on a new CD using many of the same musicians and recording at the same studio. Five tracks have already been recorded. Harper said he’s especially proud of two duets he performs with Wass, who herself is making a name in Nashville. Harper is penning all the songs for the as-yet-unnamed album, which is scheduled for release in June.
“I’m on a roll,” Harper said of writing songs. “I’ve probably written at least 30 songs in the last 12 months that are keepers. “You never know when you’re going to get inspired, and you have to be ready for it.”
“For the Love of Country” is available at Gott’s Store and Carroll Drug in Southwest Harbor, the Friends and Family Market in Ellsworth and the Tradewinds Marketplace in Blue Hill and can be ordered online at dannyharper.com. Harper is working with several online retailers and expects the CD to be more widely available early in January.