Lifeline

Studio Album by released in 2007

Lifeline review

Ben Harper wants no rest

From the early days of his career Ben Harper's music received more attention in Europe than it did in his native America. While he was a well-known and respected figure in the States he was a star in such countries like France, Germany or Switzerland receiving a great deal of airplay and critical acclaim. His popularity grew with every new album and eventually achieved such scope that in French Rolling Stones Magazine's opinion he was the best artist of 2003. But luckily Ben Harper doesn't suffer from the star fever, instead, the higher he gets the harder he works. For the last eight years he managed to release six studio albums and it seems like he doesn't even think of taking a break. His recent double album Both Sides Of The Gun was released only 18 months ago and he is already here again to offer his fans a set of completely new songs. At the end of a nine-month European tour Ben Harper and his backing jam band The Innocent Criminals landed in a small recording studio in Paris and recorded their fresh album Lifeline in just seven days.

Sign of highest professionalism

The album turned out to be extremely soulful and simple. The musicians were recording all their parties live using analog tape just like in good old times. Everything is very honest here; there are no studio tricks like Pro Tools or other audio wizardry. Nobody records albums this way nowadays – it is too risky, you have to be ready for the session, it is mach simpler to use resources of the advanced technologies. It all makes Lifeline especially valuable the more so because Ben Harper and company rehearsed new material on tour right on the stage during sound checks before live shows. The performances sound confident and natural, there is no tension here, quite on the contrary, you can feel the easy-going state of musicians – a sign of real professionals. Despite being very modest the arrangements sound sufficiently convincing – give a try to In The Colors. This is one of the most interesting songs of the album, everything sounds simple but it has a very original funky zest.

Ben Harper reinvents musical standards

The overwhelming majority of the songs are based on simple, well-known musical standards but for all that Ben Harper somehow manages to make his songs sound fresh. As if he is reinventing all these blues, folk and funk cliches. Put On Me or bluesy Fool For A Lonesome Day are probably the most stylistically predictable songs of the album but their simplicity and sincerity wins your heart at once. Sometimes Harper mixes classic R&B into his songs. It sounds pretty distinct on Say You Will for instance or on extremely emotional Needed You Tonight. There are no elements of this genre that are too evident but still its presence is sensible here and there throughout the album. Harper stays alone with his guitar in his hands on the very last melancholic song Lifeline and calmly concludes the album leaving a listener in a peaceful and thoughtful state. Lifeline is a classic rock album – live, honest and simple. Just that kind of a record you always coming back to, not to find something new but to enjoy this music one more time.