Man and Myth

Man and Myth

Roy Harper, grand old man of U.K. folk-rock, took his sweet time making Man and Myth, with 13 years between this and his last album, The Green Man. It was worth the wait. While its predecessor was a stripped-down acoustic affair, Man and Myth incorporates everything from strings and horns to full electric accompaniment, though there's still plenty of space within the arrangements. Harper's new right-hand man is fellow troubadour Jonathan Wilson, a Harper disciple who produced the record and plays multiple axes here. He frames Harper's expansive, impressionistic epics artfully, giving them room to breathe while adding elegant melodic touches. In the end, naturally, it all comes down to the songwriting. Whether the 72-year-old is musing poetically on his place in the temporal continuum amid autumnal strings on "January Man" or casting a withering glance at contemporary societal ills, punctuated by greasy sax lines and Pete Townshend's crunchy guitar riffs on "Cloud Cuckooland," Harper's firing on all cylinders here.

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