Old Airport Road
Though best known these days for his Fellini’s and La Fonda Latina restaurant chains, Clay Harper also played an influential role in Atlanta’s alt-rock scene, first with iconic ‘80s band The Coolies and later alongside Rob Gal (now better known for producing Sugarland) in Ottoman Empire.
Old Airport Road marks his first new album in over a decade. But, if the endless stream of expletives that blues belter Sandra Hall utters on the funky opener “Ole Ray” is any indication, he hasn’t lost any of his counter-culture edge in the interim.
Harper handles vocals himself on the laid-back shuffle of “Roly Poly,” the horn-laden balladry of “Beautiful,” and the bluesy closer, “They Played Amazing Grace.” But half the album finds him sharing the spotlight with a diverse variety of special guests. The hip-hop-influenced “Get That Money” features a brief appearance by female MC Slim Red; the haunting title track features Errol Moore on vocals and
Glenn Phillips on guitar; and the skronking “I Can Find You At the Airport” features spoken word by ATL legend Colonel Bruce Hampton.
Still, despite the disparate vocalists and genres explored, Old Airport Road almost feels like a concept album, with beautiful songs that explore the seedy underbelly of 21st century city life. In short, it was well worth the wait.