Well, Ben Harper is back, again, this time with a return to his solo work (the first since 2006’s Both Sides of the Gun) and his tenth studio album, Give Till It’s Gone. It’s been a rough year for Harper…first the breakup with Virgin Records, then the breakup with his wife, actress Laura Dern. You’d think, under these less than desirable circumstances, that this would be a fantastic album, but while I wish that were the case, it simply isn’t so.
Can someone please tell me why an album like his last effort with The Relentless 7, White Lies For Dark Times was so poorly received, while this one is getting rave reviews? It’s just a little bit ridiculous. I rather enjoyed WLFDT, while most critics tore it apart. Now, Harper gives us a whining, droning, waste of bandwidth and everyone seems to go batshit crazy for it. It doesn’t even have a negative review on Metacritic, yet, and that’s almost unheard of. You’d think there’d at least be someone out there trolling on it. Well, I guess this time, that someone happens to be me. It seems like this album just never actually gets off the ground, despite the assistance of heavyweights like Ringo Starr and Jackson Browne.
I get it. It’s supposed to be this post-break up confessional, especially with tracks like “Don’t Give Up On Me Now”, the first hit of the album, but it simply falls flat. He tries an attempt at genuine angst, but it just comes out from disorganized, noisy, and full on messy in tracks like “Clearly Severly” to merely clumsy with songs like “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Free” to a misguided attempts at psychedelia with the Beatles’ inspired, “Spilling Faith”.
What a bummer, because I really do like Ben Harper. This album really wasn’t even worth the download time. Apparently a lot of other people are loving the shit out of it, though, so you never know, you might still dig it. For me, though, I can bring myself to give it anything over a C. Hopefully he gets through whatever the hell this phase is and goes back to making inspired, inventive, and classically Ben Harper-styled tunes.
You can check it out for yourself, streaming for free on his Myspace. You can check out more on his site, Facebook, and Twitter, as well. Well this was certainly a down note to start the weekend. Hopefully, the rest of my new albums are better!
“Don’t Give Up On Me Now”