Once again Ben Harper reaches for the gravitas his super-freak fans are convinced he has in spades; there’s a reason the Ben Harper albums in collaboration/special guest spots work best for him (think to his almost acceptable gospel-lite Blind Boys record) and that’s because Harper is a charlatan, almost a fraud in fact – so have someone with cred/actual talent in the wings will often save a project. Musswelwhite here offers up a series of NBA playoff-worthy assists.
This is a pure collaboration between the two – in that it’s not as bad as any of the other Ben Harper albums (not quite) and not as good as any of the other Charlie Musswelwhite albums (easily); so therein we have the push/pull of collaboration.
I’ve come to loathe that pained bleat Ben Harper has on speed-dial and his gimmick-guitar seemed to go from an almost earthy tone to the most horrid, processed squall.
There are tracks on this album that won’t make you wince – almost a first for Ben Harper.
And hopefully his overzealous fans might discover Charlie Musselwhite.
Those are the positives.
The negatives: well, you still have to listen to Ben Harper. It’s tantamount to musical blackface really, init?