Corey Harper at El Rey Theatre - photo by Siri Svay

Corey Harper at El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA

Following his first album, On the Run, released in Fall 2016, along with a string of singles and music videos, 21-year-old Portland singer-songwriter Corey Harper played to a packed house at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, opening for Zane Carney. As Harper’s set progressed, the venue’s audience grew quickly, with more and more ladies pouring in and gathering to the edge of the stage—all singing and hanging onto every lyric sung.

Corey Harper played select songs from On the Run, opening with first single “California Sun.” He also showcased a brand-new song he written fairly recently titled “Favorite Part of Loving You,” which is an ode he serenades to his love—“you look the best in that dress you never wear”—an affectionate aria that will melt the hearts of listeners. In addition, Bonnie Raitt’s “Angel from Montgomery” made its way into the set with extended guitar solos from Harper and guitarist Dylan Day.

Looking at the set list, one might think that it was a short performance, however, Harper incorporated inspiring guitar solos and improvs—namely his own and Day’s. The intricate solos looked like a piece of cake for these virtuosos, but as someone who might not be as skilled, it renders the audience in awe to bask in those moments of pure musicianship. Passion and dexterity flowed through each of the musicians’ veins, a profound sight to experience live.

Overall, Harper’s sound is fairly mellow—sit around a campfire in the woods with a few friends singing these songs. His songs exude a genuine and intimate warmth that make listeners feel safe and tenderly loved, especially cradled with his deep country voice. Though the music is mellow, it’s amped up with a full live band, which crescendoed the tranquil tunes into a power rocking performance. Harper growled those passionate vocals and held those long notes that could fill both a blues night club and a stadium singing to the stars.

It’s refreshing to see music in its rawest form—the performance of guitar solos and improv—and Corey Harper is heading in the right direction as an artist on the rise. With nods from Rolling Stone and Baeble Music, Harper is just getting started and this reviewer is excited to see where his music takes him next on his musical journey.

Text and photos by Siri Svay

*Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.