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Album Review

Ben Harper and Relentless7

May 4, 2009
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Blues-Rock
Ben Harper and Relentless7 White Lies For Dark Times
Virgin
ESSENTIAL "Lay There and Hate Me"
Ben Harper and Relentless7 play a sold-out show at the Paradise Rock Club Sunday.

For an artist with such an omnivorous appetite for musical styles and an aptitude for executing them all well, it must be hard to come across the next, next thing. But sometimes all it takes is a new cast of supporting characters for a spiritual recharge. Ben Harper seems to have found that in his new band, Relentless7. Whereas Harper has navigated his trademark slide guitar through funk, soul, folk, gospel, and acoustic singer-songwriter territory in the past, here his wanderings with the band find him rooted in the mire of the blues, as on the swampy grind of "Number With No Name" and the rambling barnburner "Why Must You Always Dress in Black." "Lay There and Hate Me" works up a sweaty funk groove and tortured, growling vocal, while "Skin Thin" tickles the strings for a sensitive, soft-spoken ballad. Harper leaves a few arrows unstrung from his deep musical quiver here, but the ones he fires all seem to hit their mark. (Out tomorrow) LUKE O'NEIL