What is the deal with Ben
Harper? First his work as a solo artist was won all kinds of critical and
popular acclaim. Then late last year he formed a band and became Ben Harper and
Relentless 7. Watch for the band’s new White
Lies For Dark Times to zoom up the charts gathering critical acclaim along
Hey, no fair! Ben had two
turns and most of us haven’t had one! I guess that’s what happens when you
release a raw, gutsy album that grabs you by the collar for a wild, rocking
ride. Great guitar lines, solid drums, and of course Harper’s soul-searing
voice bring the music together into a solid, hard-to-resist package.
The party starts with
“Number with No Name” – throbbing guitar lines and just-the-right-touch of
percussion – borrows a bit from soul and classic rock as Harper sings “The very
thing that drives you, can drive you insane” on this infectious sure-to-be hit.
There’s soul aplenty in other songs notably “Lay There & Hate Me” (with the
fabulous lyric “Ain’t no fool like the fool you love”). These rock/soul combo
tunes are clearly what Harper does best.
That’s not to say all of the
music is spot on. “The Word Suicide” was a bit too slow and – candidly –
emotional for my taste. I think I understand where they were going, but this
song almost comes out as more Hallmark than heartfelt. In fairness, though,
this is one of those songs that might take time to resonate with the listener. Minor
quibbles aside, Ben Harper and Relentless 7 has put out an album destined to
become a classic.
Standout Tracks: “Lay There & Hate Me,” “Number with No Name” NANCY DUNHAM