Review : Ben Harper And Relentless7 - White Lies For Dark Times
AllmusicWhile it's always been true that Ben Harper has been a musically restless soul with a penchant for changing up his groove from album to album, most of them have been recorded with his longtime unit the Innocent Criminals. As a result, both live and in the studio, a particular vibe existed. Familiarity breeds that, and it also sets up a dynamic. For White Lies for Dark Times, Harper put the Innocent Criminals on hiatus and hooked up with a new group: three Austin, TX transplants to Los Angeles called Relentless7, comprised of guitarist Jason Mozersky, bassist Jesse Ingalls, and drummer Jordan Richardson. The end result is, to say the least, explosive. While it's true that this 11-track collection does have some beautiful acoustic balladry on it, and a touch of Harper's brand of soul in its grooves, most of what we find here is balls out Rock with a potent dose of ragged, modern Texas blues thrown in. Indeed this may be the most electric sounding recording Harper has ever issued. He co-wrote six of the tracks with his bandmates, and those he wrote himself have been arranged and/or written to be played with this band. It's in the mix from the opener, "Number with No Name," the slow slide guitar playing an electric blues stomp that's pure Harper, but the drums are pure thud and whomp rather than snap and crackle. The bassline is enormous and the second guitar matches both volume and nastiness with that slide. In other words, this sounds like a band playing this jam, not Harper and his band. One can hear traces of Jimi Hendrix, early ZZ Top, and Johnny Winter in the attack, but it's pure rocking blues thunder and lightning spit out via Texas and the Delta....full text
Bostonfor executing them all well, it must be hard to come across the next, next thing. But sometimes all it takes is a new cast of supporting characters for a spiritual recharge. Ben Harper seems to have found that in his new band, Relentless7. Whereas Harper has navigated his trademark slide guitar through funk, soul, folk, gospel, and acoustic singer-songwriter territory in the past, here his wanderings with the band find him rooted in the mire of the blues, as on the swampy grind of "Number With No Name" and the rambling barnburner "Why Must You Always Dress in Black." "Lay There and Hate Me" works up a sweaty funk groove and tortured, growling vocal, while "Skin Thin" tickles the strings for a sensitive, soft-spoken ballad. Harper leaves a few arrows unstrung from his deep musical quiver here, but the ones he fires all seem to hit their mark. (Out tomorrow) LUKE O'NEIL...full text
CourantPress material for Ben Harper's latest release talks at length about how Harper is rewriting "the story of modern rock music." That's hyperbolic, to say the least; "White Lies for Dark Times" is very much rooted in the past.
He and his new three-man backing band, Relentless7, spend as much time looking back as pushing forward on a collection of songs that draw as heavily on hearty blues-rock as on Harper's penchant for mellow pop soul. The result is a restless hybrid that never completely settles into the groove that has defined the singer and guitarist's best albums.
Steeped in twangy Texas blues, the L.A. via Austin transplants in Relentless7 — guitarist Jason Mozersky, bassist Jesse Ingalls and drummer Jordan Richardson — certainly add a new dimension to Harper's sound. It's fiercer on the pulsing opener, "Number With No Name," featuring an explosive slide guitar solo from Harper, and full of grit and sweat on "Shimmer and Shine."...full text
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