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Out Of Paul Simon's Shadow, A Son Rises

Harper Simon has recorded with other groups before, but his self-titled debut marks his first attempt to carry a record on his own.

Pick a track, and it's easy to hear where the man gets his voice: He sounds a lot like Paul Simon. Many performers would be flattered by the comparison, but Harper Simon, 37, sounds conflicted.

"Is that true? Sometimes you hear people and they sound like their parents, and it kind of makes you cringe," the younger Simon says.

You see, Harper Simon is Paul Simon's son. As a younger performer, Simon says he sought to avoid the comparison. Paul Simon played folk music, while Harper got into punk.

"I just didn't have the voice," Harper Simon says. "It doesn't carry over the loud distorted guitars."

Simon says his new album is a tribute to rock records he admires from the '60s and '70s. Think Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde or The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Harper Simon even recruited some of the same players.

With help from a producer known for his work with Dylan and Johnny Cash, Simon booked an group of legendary Nashville session musicians. He laid the basic tracks in Nashville, and built on them with help from several younger musician friends.

Harper's dad also helped write songs. Harper toured with his father as a teen and even joined him onstage occasionally. But he says this was the first time the two ever really worked together.

"No, we had never collaborated before," he says. "And I didn't intend to collaborate with him. I guess he got inspired, and I had so many tracks, I was kind of swamped. So I was happy that someone was going to try to solve some problems for me. You know, what can I say? He's a good writer."

Harper Simon says he never thought it would take this long. But for the first time in his career, he says he thinks he may have created something he's really proud of.

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Vince Pearson
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