It is rare for artist to successfully reinvent themselves. Masters at this craft are RUSH, Madonna and the chameleon David Bowie. Harder than successfully reinventing themselves is for an artist to evolve without alienating their core listenership. The hardest task is not to look like a trend jumper.
Ben Harper has managed to achieve these tasks with his new album “White Lies For Dark Times”. Harper is not playing with his traditional backing band the Innocent Criminals. In this outing he is backed by Relentless7 whose members come from Led Zeppelin Tribute band “Pudge Zeppelin”.
There is a heavy Led Zeppelin influence to the disk, early Led Zep. This is bluesy hard rock for the most part, a huge departure from the folk rock Ben Harper typically belts out.
There are some solid rockers on the album. Stand outs are “Up To You Now”, “Shimmer & Shine” which you would swear John Bonham himself was playing on drums on. Drummer Jordan Richardson is a old school big drummer invoking visions of Moon, Ward and the for-mentioned Bonham.
“Shimmer & Shine” also has one of the coolest retro fuzz guitar tones you have ever heard. Jason Mozersky’s (picture below) guitar work throughout the album is insipring ad flawless. Keeping with the Zeppelin theme Bassist Jesse Ingalls also plays the keys on the disk ala Jon Paul Jones.
Other hard rock stand outs are “Keep It Together” which is a 70’s era hard rock tune with huge Sly Stone overtones. Funky heavy rock with a hook heavy chorus. The disk continues with the blues rock theme with the track “Boots Like These”. You would think this is something that was written during Led Zeppelin’s sessions for Led Zeppelin II.
For those of you looking for the mellower Ben Harper there are so great ballads on the disk. “The Word Suicide” is a great country flavored ballad with some great slide guitar work. “Faithfully Remain” is another mellower tune, not quite a ballad but a cool slow rocker.
I cannot find a single bad track on this album. That being said I can’t find a single mediocre track on this disk. Every song has top ten potential.
Ben Harpers tour dates show a sparse trip though the United States. I am hoping this album will gain some traction and more dates will soon be added. White Lies For Dark Times is now available for download on ITunes.
White Lies for Dark Times – Track Listing
1. Number With No Name
2. Up To You Now
3. Shimmer & Shine
4. Lay There & Hate Me
5. Why Must You Always Dress In Black
6. Skin Thin
7. Fly One Time
8. Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)
9. Boots Like These
10. The Word Suicide
11. Faithfully Remain