He has the blonde, fresh-scrubbed looks of a young West Coast surfer, but Portland, Oregon, musician Corey Harper’s radiant “California Sun” takes its musical cues from soul-baring sand and grit rather than crashing waves. With vocals that suggest Harper as John Mayer’s breezier fraternal twin, his tunes are a mix of Seventies country-rock touched by Mississippi blues. The 21-year-old’s “California Sun,” from his upcoming debut EP, is highlighted by a melodic chorus that finds the singer-songwriter dealing with the emotional fallout of a break-up, but resolute as to why he’s remaining rather Zen-like about the whole situation.
“I’m not going anywhere fast ’cause you always come right back,” he sings. “You remind me of the California sun. I don’t feel you as much when I get drunk.“
Born in Missouri, Harper picked up guitar at a very early age, having come across a Fender Stratocaster at his uncle’s house in Kansas City. With help from his uncle and father, he learned simple chords and honed his skills by watching videos of guitar greats Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, copying what he was hearing them play.
He briefly studied music and literature history in Eugene, Oregon, but dropped out to pursue his musical path in Los Angeles, settling in the creative mecca of Venice Beach, where his organically crafted EP was recorded and produced by Andrew Wells.
“For me it was important to take an old-school approach,” Harper tells Rolling Stone Country. “I wanted to avoid getting caught up in the stereotypical recording process and instead allow everything to come together naturally.”
Beyond his own music, Harper also created an artistic collective called Winston House. A place for talented people from all over the world to hang out and create together, it also afforded the musician the opportunity to open shows for soul musician Allen Stone. And after seeing him play at Winston House, pop superstar Justin Bieber asked Harper to open shows for him on the Pacific Northwest dates of his Purpose Tour.
“California Sun” is now available at iTunes and Spotify, and the On the Run EP will be released this fall.