By Anna Letson, Multimedia Editor
In the intimacy of Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3, Corey Harper brought a little bit of West-Coast-cool to the Lower East Side on Tuesday night. Hailing from the Pacific
Northwest, he owned the aesthetic of a Portland hipster in a worn denim jacket and Warby Parker glasses. After spending the day interviewing and playing quick acoustic sessions at Nylon Magazine and Billboard, he broke the ice with a little introduction and began with a couple of classic blues covers to warm up the crowd. Once comfortable on stage, Harper introduced a couple unreleased songs he’s been working on, only ever ceasing to play his guitar for a moment before starting a new song.
His history in music was evident in the originals songs he performed. His love for the blues, stemming back from childhood could be heard in hints of Bob Dylan and James Taylor who inspired him to start writing music in the first place, was a huge sonic presence. Another one of his icons includes John Mayer, to whom his voice has been compared to by the likes of Rolling Stone.
Harper’s lyrics come from a lot of his recent life experiences, like moving from the Portland area (he grew up in Vancouver, Washington, though he calls Portland home) to the vastness of Los Angeles, a city of 11 million people. Flooded with the feelings that came with such an abrupt move, his song “Hollywood” is about “the people of LA and sometimes wishing [he] hadn’t set [his] heart to be like them.”
Interspersing his own music with songs that were still in the works, Harper played the title track off his upcoming EP “On the Run” along with a few others that were released over the summer. While performing “Stop the Clock,” Harper’s youth came through in a song any twenty-something could relate to. He described it as “meeting someone for the first time and being so drawn to someone, and… falling out of someone and who they’re becoming and who you’re becoming,” blaming it on his tendency to over-analyze. Taking a step aside from the mic during the bridge, his voice carried across the silent room as the audience listened intently.
Harper’s love for music came through in his stage presence. With his foot keeping a steady beat and his eyes closed, his attention was on the quality of his sound. He took time to talk about his music before performing a song, wanting people to know the story and intent behind his words. With the release of a new EP looming on the horizon, Harper has been spending his time promoting the album and meeting with labels while tracking for his upcoming full-length and working with a live band. He plans on a tour up the West Coast in November and hopefully another tour around the country toward the end of the year into 2017.
Harper says “as long as people keep showing up, I’ll keep playing,” which after his set, they certainly will.