Ben Harper has announced the coming release of his new album, Winter Is For Lovers (via ANTI- Records), and released the album’s first single. “Inland Empire”, with an accompanying video. The 15-track solo record features just Harper and his Monteleone lap steel guitar performing original compositions imagined as a symphony.
While the lap steel guitar has played an integral role in his work dating back to his 1994 debut, Welcome To The Cruel World, Winter Is For Lovers is a pure distillation of his reverence for and mastery of the instrument. As Harper explains of the new record,
This is my first entirely instrumental album. It is stark, bare bones, just me and my lap steel guitar. It is purposefully produced to sound intimate and spare, as if I am playing in your living room. Upon first listen it may be surprising or catch some people off guard because it is dramatically stripped-down in contrast to a lot of what we hear today.
I am a big fan of flamenco, classical, Hawaiian and blues guitar, and I hope these influences are all somehow represented within Winter Is For Lovers.
I have been composing this record for most of my adult life, and the challenge this record presented to me was completely new. To record an entire album with one guitar and no words, where every single nuance was under a microscope, was more demanding than any record I have made to date, and also more rewarding.
The music featured on Winter Is For Lovers is embedded in Harper’s musical DNA and leads directly back to The Folk Music Store, the influential California instrument shop opened by his grandparents back in the late ’50s. Harper worked at the shop throughout his childhood, affording him the opportunity to meet—and even string guitars for—artists like Ry Cooder, Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal, David Lindley, and Jackson Browne. Early on, Ben Harper gravitated to the distinct sonics of the slide guitar, learning finger picking from slide master Taj Mahal and later studying with Chris Darrow of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band—a lap steel virtuoso who had a major influence on Harper’s lifelong love affair with the instrument.
Along with the album’s announcement, Ben Harper has shared the LP’s first single, “Inland Empire”, and an accompanying video of him performing the meditative song. Stream “Inland Empire” on the platform of your choice here and watch the video below:
Ben Harper – “Inland Empire” [Official Video]
[Video: ANTI- Records]
Starting today, September 1st, fans can order a deluxe copy of the album on signed, numbered, and hand-stamped 180g vinyl. Orders for the limited pressing (2,000 copies) of the deluxe edition of Winter Is For Lovers by Ben Harper will be fulfilled this week. The release date for the standard vinyl and digital versions of the album will be announced later this year.