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White Lies For Dark Times Import

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

2009 release, the ninth studio album from acclaimed singer/songwriter and Grammy Award-winner Ben Harper. Harper has now reunited with band mates met when recording Both Sides of the Gun (2006) Relentless 7. White Lies for Dark Times is a timeless Rock record, with a cohesive collection of music that is as raw, unrelenting and thunderous, as it is arrestingly haunting and emotional.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 5, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Virgin Records
  • ASIN: B001T9IO1S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,903 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
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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Format: Audio CD
I'm a big fan of Ben Harper, especially his live albums. This is his best studio effort to date, that's good considering he's been recording for 15 years. This is a great straight up rock record, it really has the energy of his live shows. The new band has helped Harper re-invent himself with a more rock-blues sound.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
White Lies For Dark Times marks change in direction for Ben Harper. Gone are The Innocent Criminals with Relentless7 in their place. The changes that result from this are great, but that is by no means a knock on The Innocent Criminals (see my review of Lifeline for further discussion). However, Ben Harper is a versatile musician, and he has shown that he can deliver in multiple styles with White Lies For Dark Times being the most recent evidence.

Relentless7 is a three piece backing for Harper, and their sound has a much more electric emphasis than Lifeline. White Lies For Dark Times also has a darker sound, and Harper is nowhere near as upbeat. Harper's lyrics carry a sense of desperation and angst as shown by "There's nowhere to run/I've got no one to tell/My face has become a mask/And I'm not wearing it well" from "Number With No Name" or "Arms that hold you close/Are the arms that hold you back/While your world is under attack" from "Up To You Now". Other examples come from "Lay There & Hate Me" "I feel like an underpaid concubine/Who's overstayed her welcome" and "The Word Suicide" "The word suicide is irresponsible/Still you offer me a gun". It is clear that Harper is expressing a harsher reality than he did on Lifeline.

The change in lyrics is balanced with the change in sound from Relentless7. Jason Mozersky is a very good guitarist, and his use of distortion, fuzz, and "wah wah" pedals gives the instrumentation an edge that matches the lyrics of the songs. Harper's vocal delivery is also different. The first time I listened to the CD, the third verse of "Up To You Now" stuck with me as all the instruments are silent while he earnestly delivers the following lines in his upper register "There's no sound louder than war/And we don't have tomorrow any more".
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Format: Vinyl
Ben Harper with Relentless 7 is my favorite band that has played with Ben. This is an outstanding LP. The pressing is done with care and quality.

This album stands out as some of my favorite songs by Ben Harper. The album has been in heavy rotation on my play list for some time now. This is one of those releases that just sounds so much better on vinyl (180gram) and cries out for the large gatefold format. I saw Ben at Lollapalooza in 2009 playing with Relentless 7. Ben is one of the rare artists that sounds great live and recorded.

Ben's voice has an incredible energy and emotion. His music has blues roots, but is straight up excellent rock. The tracks on this album are somewhat varied, from more simple tunes to some dark complex music. Shimmer and Shine is a nice tune with an easy to remember hook. Lay There and Hate Me, dark blues where his girl friend has decided she hates him more than anything.

Ben Harper has a unique style and sound. There are hints of other singers in his voice and music. Lenny Kravitz comes to mind, especially on Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart). Where Lenny plays to a mass audience, more popular music; Harper follows his muse and creates more complex music. There's a little bit of Little Feat in a few songs. The last two songs, The Word Suicide and Faithfully Remain are gorgeous slow ballads. The range on this album is fantastic.

Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 performed at the 2009 Montreal Jazz Festival, the recording is available on CD and DVD: Live From the Montreal International Jazz Festival (CD/DVD). The performance is excellent; the set list is pretty close to this album.
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