Release Date: May 17, 2011
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
The 10th album from slide-guitar master and jam-band darling Ben Harper is his most searingly personal album, an expression, no doubt, of the recent implosion of his marriage to actress Laura Dern. Even the quietest moments on Give Till It's Gone, like "Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn," on which Jackson Browne sings harmony, mingle desperation with defiant strength. Elsewhere (notably "Rock N' Roll Is Free," inspired by Neil Young, and "Do It for You, Do It for Us"), Harper roars on guitar, achieving a hard-won redemption through lacerating noise.
Now in his 40s and on the rocks with actress wife Laura Dern, Harper finally sounds as weathered and tortured as his songs have always aspired to be. The heartbreak on Give Till It’s Gone is savage and genuine, and the new Tom Petty-esque hitches in his voice lend blustery songs like ”I Will Not Be Broken” and ”Dirty Little Lover” a rare combination of resilience and sadness, with plenty of room left over for house-on-fire soloing. A? Download These:Bluesy Rock N’ Roll Is Free at Last.fmRamshackle jam Get There From Here at Last.fm .
The last time we saw Ben Harper, it was in 2009 with his raucous, blues-driven Relentless7 putting out White Lies for Dark Times. If you’re looking for that same energy, my best advice is take heart the request of his return’s opening track. “Don’t Give Up On Me Now,” the song begs; sound advice, as its restrained manner is an inaccurate indicator of things to come.
After the sidestep trio with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur in A Fistful of Mercy, a trio that netted the all-too-sleepy As I Call You Down, guitar hero Ben Harper reconvenes his Relentless7 bandmates -- Jason Mozersky, guitar; Jesse Ingalls, bass and keys; and Jordan Richardson, drums -- for Give Till It's Gone. The 11-song set runs the gamut of Harper's many styles. There are midtempo rockers such as the intimate first-person confessional "Don't Give Up on Me Now," which examines the distance between what a man aspires to be and what he actually is.