Cheeringly, you can always rely upon Roy Harper to buck any trend. Thirteen long years on from the release of his previous album The Green Man, and at the not-inconsiderable age of 72, Harper clearly isn’t subscribing to the notion that the passage of time steals musicians’ gifts and buries them alongside their mojo. Let’s be unequivocal: Man And Myth would still represent a dauntless throwdown for any young stag basking in the sunlit fecundity of his prime, but for a septuagenarian who’s already been around every block on the map several times over, it borders upon the supernatural.
It’s not just the strength of Harper’s hand on the tiller that impresses and confounds. While his guitar-playing remains robust and his vocal range undiminished, it’s the characteristically immersed, impassioned songwriting that most vividly illustrates his ongoing vigour. Harper’s unquenchable gusher of vitriol sprays withering disdain all over Cloud Cuckooland, a damning treatise on “corporate and celebrity culture” with a stinging guitar cameo from Pete Townshend, while momentary infatuation meets existential befuddlement on the mellifluous balladry of January Man and Time Is Temporary. Better yet, the concluding 23-minute suite – Heaven Is Here/The Exile – weaves Greek mythical resonances into the seductive body of its layered narrative. Still got it, Roy.