Sunday, May 22, 2011
BEN HARPER - GIVE TILL IT'S GONE
fan. I've been looking forward to this album for a while - it was originally supposed to come out in the fall, but I guess it got pushed back because of Ben's Fistful Of Mercy project with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur.
The new album, Give Till It's Gone, is billed as a "solo" album - I'm not sure why, since Relentless7 (his backing band on 2009's White Lies For Dark Times) is on the album. But whatever, it's a great album, and I think it is an improvement on White Lies (which was one of my favorite albums of that year).
The album will probably be seen as "the divorce album," due to recent events in Ben's life. I'll leave that alone, I don't need to know what every song was actually based on, and I respect the man's privacy.
My favorite moments on the album are actually pretty positive. The first single, "Rock and Roll Is Free" being one of them. I would think that by now, all rock and roll songs that are about rock and roll are kind of cliche - it seems like Lenny Kravitz territory (with all due respect). I've read interviews where Ben said that he was inspired to write the song after seeing Neil Young perform "Rockin' In The Free World." He wanted to write a song with the words "rock" and "free." It's not his most profound moment, but it's a lot of fun, and it makes me feel energized. It reminds me of a Matthew Sweet song (he's another artist that I dig).
The other moment I can't get enough of is "Spilling Faith" which goes right into the instrumental jam "Get There From Here." Both songs were co-written with Ringo Starr, who plays drums on them. It's a bit psychedelic and Beatles-esque. (Ben and R7 were Ringo's backing band on his promo tour last year - I wish he'd use them on a full tour instead of another All-Starr Band). Apparently, Ringo asked Ben to do a positive song (we know Ringo loves to say "peace and love!"). I'd love to hear King's X cover this one, the song made me think of them for some reason.
There are much darker moments, on the album, like "Don't Give Up On Me Now," "I Will Not Be Broken" and "Pray That Our Love Sees The Dawn" (featuring Jackson Browne on backing vocals, the album was recorded at his studio).
The album actually has a lot of range, and it makes me wonder how Ben decides what songs go where (is a song a Relentless7 song, or a Fistful of Mercy song or something he'll hold for The Innocent Criminals?). "Waiting On A Sign," for instance, would sound great done by The Innocent Criminals.
Well, Ben Harper is at the peak of his powers, and it feels like he's been there for damn, over a decade, and he's gonna be staying there for the foreseeable future. I am looking forward to seeing this tour (he's playing Terminal 5 in NY in the fall, yes I have my tickets) and what he'll do next.