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Old 09-03-2007, 12:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals - Lifeline

Released last week; Just got the album this morning and your getting first reactions here after only a couple of listens. This album was recorded consecutively in one session demonstrating the immense talent and preparation involved with such a project. Love me some Ben Harper.

Fight out of you - The opening track pulls you in with a typically Ben Harper style guitar riff. Droning lyrics about not giving up a little repetitive for my liking I prefer Harpers free flowing stream of consciousness music. After a week: of listening it has become a Pavlovian-like experience each time I hear this cuts first five notes. It's like "hey, Lifeline is up on the playlist" Strong track overall.

In the Colors - Will remind you of older Ben Harper stuff, with a summer time feel and just enough comfortable melancholy to keep you grounded. Likely to end up as one of the first singles from "Lifeline". After a week: I still like it's potential as a single and have grown to truly enjoy this song on every level. So much more soulful then I had first realized and still playful and fun.

Fool for a Lonesome Train - Country Rock style and a definite attention grabber. Subtle harp played interludes between verses on the far side of the chorus. Song seems to be missing something that keeps it from really blowing me away. After a week: It was missing time I guess because now I am blown away. Might be the best song on the CD which is quite high praise. Just an amazing song I can't stop listening to it or playing it.

Having Wings - Piano driven melody that will make your skin stand up at moments, modest rhythm with a comfortable groove. Vintage Ben Harper. After a week: Has become a middle of the pack song, but that's not a bad thing at all. The piano played under the verses is chillingly good. Really if it's the fifth best song on the CD it's still a 9+\10.

Need you Tonight - From it's elaborate and dense opening to it's simple R & B backing verse that crescendos back to the full accompaniment. Bluesy all the way through with just enough energy, my favorite track so far. After a week: "Violin is my instrument of choice" that's the moment this song becomes epic. The chasm between the pace of the verse and chorus is brilliantly assembled. Truely outstanding composition.

Say You Will - Visions of Bob Dylan dance through your head as Ben Harper pleads for acceptance from the songs object of affection. The chorus introduces us to the female back ups. Captivating free form verse lyrics are the highlight of this song. After a week: Can't get over how cool the lyrics are in this song. Nothing amazing just cool. Another fun song that draws you in and yet stays true to it's soulful roots. The guitar solo and bridge combination in the later half of the song is a special thing. Top quality song, but they almost all are.

Younger Than Today - Another staple of most Ben Harper albums, a slow penetrating sad song, with a catchy absurdly fitting beat. The brief isolated piano portions of the song are my highlight. After a week: Still digging it, but it gets lost in the more energetic songs more my style. The Album would not be the same without this cut however.

Put it on Me - For a speedy more electric strumming driven song turn your dial here. With a smooth back drop and an involved straight to the point chorus. More creative and satisfying lyrics "I can't imagine this is in the best interest of Flesh and Bone". After a week: Another completely satisfying effort. Great lyrics, the afore mentioned electric strumming rhythm, and the smooth straight forward chorus are a phenomenal combination.

Heart of the Matters - The climbing beat of the verses leads you to the climactic chorus bringing you to the edge and then taking you back down to earth. As smooth and free a track as the album contains and a must listen. His heart was in it. After a week: Another song that rises to the top of the bunch and even outshines the other gems on this album. One of the best written and executed songs from top to bottom I have heard in a long time. Follow the rules and care about what you are doing deeply and this is what you get from music. I will not forgive the world if this song is not a hit one day.

Paris Sunshine #7 - Not sure what happen to the first six, but I'd love to hear them. Slide guitar intro to this solo Instrumental by Harper that sent a chill down my spine. A song with all the warming powers of the star it takes it's name from. It bleeds into the final song "lifeline". After a week: A real treat really, unique amongst his catalog and nice addition. A brilliant solo instrumental. Can you tell I like this album?

Lifeline - The title track is the conclusion to the album. Driven by Harper's whispering vocals that bring you into the world his music creates. Just him and his guitar take you through the final chapter in his latest installment. After a week: I realized today Ben Harper has a half dozen songs like this. I don't care, I'm hooked on this Album as whole. This is a very good song. Just Harper and his guitar and a typically soulful message.

Time will tell how good this album really is, but there are no weak tracks and it is a more consistent deliberate effort then the eclectic "Both Sides of the Gun" Double album from early 2006. A sort of trip back in Ben Harper time that all of his fans and many general folk rock fans are sure to enjoy. B]After a week:[/B] This album has throughly impressed me and it is a top 100 for sure, Maybe top 25 when it's all said and done.

Initial Rating: 4.75 out of 5 (Updated at 4.25 out of 5)
I'd compare it to his other album: Welcome to the Cruel World
I'd compare to someone else's album: Van Morrison's Astral Weeks (A modern version with Reggae influence substituted for Celtic.) Update: Bad comparrison, after time the songs become very indivdual, although it's still an wonderful album, it's much more Moondance then Weeks, at least until the closing track.

I recommend it.

Listen to it Here!

Lifeline by Ben Harper on Rhapsody Online

Last edited by Son of JayJamJah; 07-03-2008 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great album. I like it almost as much as 'Diamonds on the Inside'. RS called it
"An acoustic soul-rock stunner", which I totally agree with. The stripped-down format is a great vehicle for his songs and voice.
Ben Harper always reminds me of Marvin ***e for some reason, maybe it's the emotion and power of his voice.
Recorded in Paris live to 2" analog tape. Great sound.
I don't agree with the comparison to Morrison's beautiful 'Astral Weeks', it's far too structured.

RS: *** 1/2 ; My rating: *** (Out of five)
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