HARPER, AL - The Analemma Observation League

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Everything that grows knows itself. What’s taken root and blooming in Al Harper’s latest album, The Analemma Observation League, deeply knows how to invite new and old fans to linger, smile with eyes closed, and then line dance our way through reflection on these past, pivotal years of individual and collective metamorphoses.

Like an heirloom Central Valley bush sunflower, native to Al’s hometown of Bakersfield, California, the seeds of A.O.L. were cultivated over many mighty seasons of heat, movement, and seeking the sun. The formative influence of the twang and heart of the Bakersfield Sound, mashed up with the as-seen-on-TV Sounds Of The ‘70s tapes her dad bought to blast on coastal road trips, is an Al Harper calling card that bobs and weaves throughout her songbook. With seriously siren vocals that defy comparison, honeyed with a Chrissie Hynde-meets-Harumi hum all her own, A.O.L. plays like the culmination of what Al promised to further nurture in herself after the release of her pandemic LP, Promises I Kept.

An analemma – the shape the sun makes in the sky when seen from the same spot at the same time every day for a year – takes the shape of a figure 8 when observed from Earth. Just like the flowers and landscapes that take form throughout A.O.L., Al’s organic and intentional lyricism gives a body to the seasons of change we all experience that occur and inevitably repeat over time. In stretching her sound through ethereal call and earthy response echoes with guitars that imitate electric harps, bass that keeps it MC5, and tight drums that recalibrate our heart rate, Al loops back and swirls us through her experiences of memory and love that feel both intimate and deeply shared at the same time.

By analyzing her own life chapters and highlights through the lens of an analemma, Al’s membership card in the Analemma Observation League has given her access to refract the figure 8 concept of infinity through a new light set to a sonic sound. A.O.L. nudges us that, to really grow? It starts by knowing we gotta know we gotta grow.

Lani Wild