Ben Harper: Lifeline

By: Sarah Moore

Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals' gentle funk, searing soul and acoustic pop are again collected into a cohesive, expressive album. Somehow female listeners tend to outnumber the male fans, perhaps due to Harper's sex appeal or his brand of sappy jam rock. In any case, his sensual swagger is back, hand drums included, on Lifeline (Virgin).

Recorded in a week in a Paris studio, Lifeline features only analog recording technology. None of that ProTools business here, which keeps his sound rootsy and accessible. Harper's compositions are pretty straightforward on his eighth studio release. He's found a formula that works for his sound, and he keeps going with it. Sometimes the simplest of ideas can be transformed into musical gold. The lyrics give off a generic vibe (example: "True happiness is having wings," from "Having Wings") alongside memorable but basic licks. Harper finds one trick or riff and then builds the rest of the song around it. For instance, "Put It On Me" uses its quick opening riff as the building blocks of the entire song. This is not to say that what Harper uses doesn't work; he quite fabulously packages all the expected ingredients down to the compact guitar solos.

Of course, the man has his share of soul. He can belt out his worries with the best of them. On "Needed You Tonight" (perhaps the highlight of the disc) he does his best impassioned lover's plea, a breathless, soulful expression followed by softened verses. "Paris Sunset #7," the only instrumental on the disc, begins with sporadic guitar phraseology, working its way into a full-sounding, minimally structured multi-guitar ballad. This is the most peaceful part of the record, the calm before and after the storm, leading up to the understated title track of the record.

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[Published on: 2/2/08]

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Comments

Ladoo starstarstar Sat 2/2/2008 09:52PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Ladoo

Not one of Ben's best efforts. I found this album bland, but still better than a lot of stuff out there.

wetchabs star Sat 2/2/2008 10:21PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I don't know what's going on with Jambase reviews but this album came out August 28th, 2007. Does anyone else think this is a little ridiculous. Why no reviews for MMW new CD? North Mississippi Allstars? moe.? I would like to see more reviews of cd's recently released.

tourfan starstarstarstarstar Sun 2/3/2008 11:51AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

You're right ^^^ wetchabs,^^^ this ought to have been reviewed closer to the release date. But I am glad to have the review none the less. And I disagree with ladoo's comment. I was very disapointed with Bh's previous CD, the dual disc - Both Side's of the Gun. This release however, to me, sounds much more like Ben Harper.

MusicIsGood star Sun 2/3/2008 01:29PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

what happend to Ben? He used to have powerful songs that meant something. These songs suck and so does this album.

dgerlach720 starstarstar Sun 2/3/2008 05:01PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I like his live efforts from this album, but the alubm is just okay. A little late on the review though

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/4/2008 04:35AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
moejoerisin Mon 2/4/2008 09:30AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

moejoerisin

yea i gotta go with everyone else, here.. i listened to it and almost fell asleep a couple times - this is a long stretch from the likes of his older stuff.. almost had the feel of an adult contemporary album.

Pete3380 Tue 2/12/2008 09:04PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I don't know why people don't like this album. I think this i a soulful album. Needed you tonight, Put it on me stand out to me