White Lies For Dark Times – Ben Harper and Relentless7
Props to Ben Harper for changing things up and taking his music in an intriguing direction with new band, Relentless7. The heartfelt, clever and at times intense lyrics that his fans adore are here, but all in all it’s a much harder rocking Harper than anyone is used to. Not that there’s anything wrong with that by any means. From the hard grooving country-fried electric twang of the opening "Number With No Name" to the swinging ’70s style hard rock of "Why Must You Always Dress In Black," no matter what genre they’re dipping their toes in, Relentless7 is a band that is so musically tight that they end up sounding completely loose.
Harper’s commanding voice makes you shut up and listen on acoustic numbers like the emotional and intense "The Word Suicide." With it’s rocking White Stripes-esque beginning, "Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)" actually ends up sounding vaguely like a Lenny Kravitz impression, but all in all, it’s still a killer tune. The band really shows their range on songs like "Lay There and Hate Me," delivering smooth bluesy soul as the funky bassline lumbers along and Harper sings like a badass bandleader as Relentless7 "Ooh ooh ooh"s behind him.
Fuzzy guitars are the law of the land on "Boots Like These," with its percussive cartoon jungle island style backbeat, and "Shimmer and Shine," with its party time hard rocking vibe. Some of the slower and more emotional tunes like "Up To You Now" and "Skin Thin," with their heavy and poetic lyrics, will hopefully help some of Harper’s older fans embrace this new direction. Thanks to its inspirational message and hope-filled vibe, "Fly One Time" might just be destined for adult contemporary rock radio stardom. All in all though, White Lies for Dark Times marks a promising new era in Ben Harper’s career, because with so many exciting new musical directions just barely tapped into on their debut album, he and Relentless7 have plenty of room to really come into their own as a band.