May 25. 2021 | By Wayne Jessup

Promises I Kept is the debut from Al Harper, recently released on Oakland’s Homing Instinct Records. Drawing from and consolidating decades of influences, she conjures up an assured pure pop confection. The quasi-girl group spoken word passages reinforce the bittersweet vibe throughout, and the sheer range makes it impossible to assign a genre, but suffice it to say, she’d be right at home in the flickering stage light of a David Lynch scene.

“Hey You, What’s New” and “Charade, Charade” set the template, and “Paradise” is where she truly settles in, summoning untold depths from a simple phrase: “Why did you leave San Francisco?” The video for “Hey You, What’s New” is a collaboration between Mike Ramos & Harper, shot on a vintage camcorder in Point Richmond, and serves as the perfect calling card for the project.

Dreamy epic “Eulogy” doesn’t hide its sharp teeth, and  combined with “Don’t Die”, sets a mighty high bar. On paper, so many of the elements echo the familiar, but it’s a tribute to the sheer conviction of Al Harper that Promises I Kept makes it wholly her own.

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