Ben Harper & Relentless7

White Lies for Dark Times (Virgin)

Phases & Stages

Ben Harper & Relentless7

White Lies for Dark Times (Virgin)

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." His sharp turns of phrase still cut deepest when he's seething from the scorn of a woman, evidenced by the blistering, soulful blues of "Lay There & Hate Me." Good thing Harper has friends in low places.

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