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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(4 star).Show all reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2009
Ben Harper teams up with a Texas trio known by the somewhat confusing name of 'Relentless7' - but anyway, even if they can't count, they sure know how to rock. Most of the songs are blues-rockers, whereby you get a generous helping of fuzzed-up electric slide and a good dose of wah wah enhanced electric lead - and the music is all held together by a tight and funky rhythm section. However, the album isn't all ballsy blues and frenzied funk - with a few numbers, BH slows down the tempo to give the listener a sprinkling of his more familiar neo-roots music. Most of the songs have pretty good lyrics too.

Those tunes that really do the business for me are : 'Number With No Name', 'Shimmer & Shine', 'Lay There and Hate Me', 'Why Must You Always Dress In Black', 'Skin Thin' and 'Keep It Together'; the rest aren't bad either, with just a couple that don't quite 'get there' for me.

I didn't think they made music like this anymore (the major influences are obvious - Jimi Hendrix, Cream and The Rolling Stones). Anyone who likes their music with a lot of balls should enjoy this album, with its super-charged playing and BH's soulful vocals (as another reviewer mentions, occasionally sounding a little like Stevie Wonder). Also, if you're 'getting on a bit' (like me) and hanker for that pre-arena, classic psych-tinged blues-rock sound from yesteryear, then you might want to lend an ear to this album - it's a frightfully decent record.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The last we saw from Ben Harper was the 2007 "Lifeline" album with his Innocent Criminals band. That album was as introspective and acoustic as anything Ben Harper had ever done. With that bug seemingly now out of his system, Ben decided the moment was right to take time-out from the Innocents Criminals and instead he assembled a new band simply called Relentless7.

The moment that the new album "White Lies for Dark Times" (11 tracks; 47 min.) opens with "Number With No Name", you know this is going to be a very different affair from "Lifeline". Indeed the sound is heavy, even bluesey. Comparisons with the Cream immediately came to mind, check out "Up To You Know", but also Jimi Hendrix. "Shimmer & Shine" is an up-tempo rocker. The first half of the album closes with two other hard-charging tunes: "Lay There & Hate Me" (with the line "Never trust a woman/Who loves the blues", ha!) and "Why Must You Always Dress In Black". Wow, talk about a fantastic first half. "Skin Thin" kicks off the second half of the album in a decidely more relaxed fashion. In fact, there is only one more heavy track, namely "Keep it Together". The closer "Faithfully Remain" is a great way to round out this collection.

As much as I liked "Lifeline" for what that was, I really really like this album. I think Ben Harper benefitted tremendously from assembling a new backing band, as it seems to have energized him. Ben's songwriting has never been better in my opinion. I've seen Ben on tour with the Criminal Innocents, and can't wait to see him at some point on stage with Relentless7.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2009
Ben Harper returns with another helping of his down-home roots rock and a voice that truly knows how to wrench emotion out of the lyrics. Not to mention some excellent guitar skills. Starting off the album with a funky track, "Number With No Name", the album progress nicely, ending on two powerful slower tempo songs. My favorite, so far, "The Word Suicide" with the quote "Love is a lonely road" (indeed). Great job!
I really like this album, and I hope Ben and the Relentless 7 make it to Austin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 30, 2009
For his tenth studio album, Ben Harper has traded his normal backing band the Innocent Criminals for a new one the Relentless7, but make no doubt, White Lies for Dark Times still sounds like a Ben Harper album. What the Relentless7 adds can be heard most on the rock songs that sound bluesier and closer to a garage band, the three musicians come from Texas, sound than the more polished Innocent Criminal sound.

That influence can be heard of the drums and fuzz first single Shimmer & Shine and the album opener Number with No Name which is a slide guitar from down on the bayou that takes a pit stop in Seattle. The spacey yet raw Up to You Now is reminiscent of something off of Mirror ball which famously saw Neil Young replaced for the album Pearl Jam with Crazy Horse. Lay There & Hate Me features an opening piano groove and bassline that borders on disco with some "ooh's" that could have been lifted from a Rolling Stones record yet mix together perfectly. While Why Must You Always Dress in Black sounds like something from the Jimi Hendrix catalogue. Keep it Together (So I Can Fall Apart) starts out that way until it breaks down into kind of jam band type groove.

The slower songs sound more like vintage Harper for better or worse. Skin Thin sounds like it has appeared already on his previous nine albums with just a changed lyric or two. On the flip side of the coin is Fly One Time that just builds and builds with a driving groove to the point where Ben's voice starts to crack. Hopefully the rejuvenation from the Relentless7 keeps Ben Harper putting out listenable music for another ten albums.
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on March 4, 2010
Ben Harper temporarily puts on hiatus his longtime backing band, the Innocent Criminals, to create an album that sounds fresh for a artist that seems to be trying something new on almost every album. Three Texas musicians join Harper in studio to form the Relentless7 and create a sound that is that is heavy on the Texas blues while still preserving Harper's signature soul vibe. Harper's slide guitar is snarling and gritty for most of the album, but some of the acoustic tracks are just as memorable. The single "Shimmer and Shine" is a definite standout, opening with pounding drums before adding some bluesy power chords. Other picks are the ballad "Skin Thin", "The Word Suicide" and the mid-tempo "Faithfully Remain". Harper has definitely recaptured my attention after it had waned over his last few releases, and this album shows great focus and vision from Harper and his new (hopefully not temporary) band.
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on February 7, 2011
I was lucky enough to see Ben Harper with the relentless 7 at Bonnaroo last year. Ben came out on stage alone for the first song, I had arrived early enough to have a great spot, and he blew my mind! I have purchased every Ben Harper album I can get my hands on, and I was surprised to find that he sounded exactly the same live as on the album, HOWEVER, I was, honestly, a little upset when the relentless 7 came out with him. If you've heard Ben's solo albums, or seen Ben live with the innocent criminals then you would be disappointed with his music with the relentless 7. I was, all together, so pleased to see him, but having seen him before a few times, I was a little less satisfied than before. Either way, definitely worth my time! If you've never seen Ben before, or even if you have, you wont be disappointed. Same Ben feel, same Ben music: ]
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on June 9, 2009
As usual, Ben Harper has created one of the best releases of the year. This offering is more rockin' than Ben's recent efforts and most of the songs are excellent. Even though the songs rock, there are simply some beautiful moments on this release, both sonically and lyrically. There are probably more lead, slide and weissenborn guitar solos here than on any of Ben's recent releases, and they are very well played. This CD has a few mellower tunes as well, typical of Ben's albums. His "back-up band" on this release, the "Relentless 7," had contributed to a few of the more upbeat songs on "Both Sides of the Gun," and they are in fine form here. But in the end, its Ben's album, and he really shines. I suspect for many fans, this will be a favorite, along with "Fight For Your Mind."
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on October 27, 2009
Ben Harper has replaced his old mates the Innocent Criminals with a brand new band. This reflects the music on this great CD, and in my opinion it was much needed after a couple of lackluster BHIC records. This is how we like our cup of Ben Harper, simple rock n roll, uptempo and edgy.

a great buy!
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on January 21, 2010
I bought this cd after seeing the short run of the Dave Matthews 3d movie that Harper was in. It's a shame people weren't told about it. But the music from Ben is on this cd.
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on December 20, 2012
This is what I call a solid album, no filler material. Ben Harper rocks on this one, great guitar work and lyrics - kickass!
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