White Lies For Dark Times – Ben Harper And Relentless 7

In an industry that thrives on its participants being surly and egocentric, Ben Harper stands out as being one of the music industries’ nicest blokes. Even with a famous wife and high profile career, he keeps his private life private and lets the music do the talking.

After a series of albums that featured various line-ups and the last few titles with the Innocent Criminals, Harper has put together a new group, Relentless 7 and some new sounds to go with it. Originally becoming well known for playing a Weissenborn (a type of lap steel guitar) and delivering a roots type of music, Harper uses the freedom of the new line-up to indulge his inner guitar hero. He expands his tonal approach and some of the new sounds are decidedly heavy.

With the power chord crunch of Up to You Now, the aggressive tone of Shimmer And Shine, the rubbery wah-wah pedal tones in Lay There & Hate Me or the grind of Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart), these songs sound like Harper is doing anything but sitting down while delivering them. For long time fans, Harper still dips into the bag that established his credentials with the earth boogie of songs like Why Must You Always Dress In Black or the familiar pensive moments like Skin Thin and Faithfully Remain.

In the early part of his career, Harper broke big in a lot of countries around the globe (especially Australia, where he became a bit of an adopted son). This unfortunately didn’t extend to his home country of the United States. He took some time to win over his fellow citizens but the yanks finally did catch on and with the new work, he should further cement his popularity in America. For other points on the globe, we get a new work of expanded craft and great songs.
Rob Hudson

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