90FM Album Review:Ben Harper-"Get Up"
Jesse Hinze
jhinz431@uwsp.edu







 
 

Ben Harper’s latest album, entitled Get Up!(released on Stax records, the illustrious home of some of soul music’s greatest recording artists, such as the immortal Otis Redding and the much lauded house band for the label midway through the last century, Booker T and the M.G.’s) is another exercise in the mid career renaissance being enacted by Harper over the last several years, which has included such highlights like 2007’s Lifeline(which showcased the broad range of style’s he’s mastered over the years, with the emphasis lingering towards soul ballads presented from the singer songwriter standpoint) and 2011’s Give Till It’s Gone( a meditation, seemingly, on Harper’s failing marriage at the time, which he handles with grace, even when the lyrics can become uncomfortable due to the way they cut to the heart, much the same way one feels when listening to Beck’s Sea Change or Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks), both of which have signaled a career trajectory that has become hard to peg, much the way Jack White, free from the once great but then self stifling White Stripes, has taken his music in several directions all at the same time, with projects ranging from The Dead Weather to The Raconteurs to his ongoing solo tour with two backing bands(with both an all male backing band, as well as an all female troupe, both of which have expanded his sound in directions one would have once found unfathomable).

All of the aforementioned things have led to this album, which I find to be Harper’s strongest work in his career to date, at this point, for a variety of reasons, mostly (in direct relation to the Jack White comparison made earlier) because of his collaborator on the album, Charlie Musselwhite, noted longtime blues harpist who for many years contributed to John Lee Hooker’s top notch backing band, who has brought a new element of inspiration to this album, pushing the sound towards a pure blues/rock fusion that has, over the last few years, become a fad in the music industry, with acts such as The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr. making a major mark with a similar reliance on the genre, only, when Harper does it, the sounds comes across as much more pure, and with a depth in feeling that neither of those more popular artists have matched as of yet. In short, this album is well worth your time, as not only a gateway into the music of Harper(as well as springing boarding one into an exploration into the back career of the fabulous Charlie Musselwhite), but as an example of what real, not commercial, music is meant to sound like.