Release Date: May 5, 2009
Record label: Virgin
The more spacy rock of "U pto You Now" is more directly a "Harper" tune with its stretched rhythmic sense and soulful vocal, but the utterly popping bass and wooly distorted guitar mix move it beyond his sensitive singer/songwriter frame. "Shimmer & Shine," the set's first single, begins as a double-timed rocker with Richarsdon's drum break, but kicks in with a staggered set of power chords that blend angsty punk and anthemic rock. "Why Must You Always Dress in Black" is pure blues-rock venom, the overdriven distortion (engineer and co-producer Danny Kalb did a brilliant job on this set, and on this track in particular) makes the guitars sound like they're breathing fire.
New band, careening rock.
For as long as Ben Harper has been in one’s musical conscious, he has almost always been surrounded by his backing band, the Innocent Criminals. Though the group has always been large in both numbers and sound, they have always managed to keep their flare, showcasing moody grooves while splattering exotic, intricate instrumentation throughout any shared performance with Harper. White the Innocent Criminals have helped the leading artist find his sound, the group has also provided the singer with a fluffy mattress to fall into whenever he’s in need of that 12-minute jam, rippin’ bass guitar solo or delicate touch any musician often times longs for while performing in front of packed venues.
Mini music reviews Ciara Fantasy Ride, Ride spends a lot of time in the car-pool lane, with guests like Justin Timberlake (”Love Sex Magic”) and Ludacris (”High Price,” a slinky, if lyrically obnoxious, ode to acquisitiveness). Still, her solo turn on the morning-after ballad ”I Don’t Remember” hints at something deeper under the high-gloss sheen. B — Leah Greenblatt The BoxmastersModbillyBoxmaster Billy Bob Thornton’s recent radio meltdown begged to be heard over and over.
Every great artist should take Ben Harper's cue here, cutting an album with Austin ringers, in this case Relentless7: guitarist Jason Mozersky, bassist Jesse Ingalls, and drummer Jordan Richardson. The Southern backdrop begets the gritty, gutbucket churn of opener "Number With No Name" and Harper's electric shower of slide guitar, not unlike the heavy-psych Sabbath/Zeppelin marriage in "Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)" and bristling "Why Must You Always Dress in Black. " Harper achieves the illusive balance of willful positivism and skeptical sentimentality in low-lit anthem "Up to You Now" and the fuzz guitar, jam-band crush of "Shimmer & Shine.