Saturday, March 26, 2016

CD Review: Ben Harper Returns With The Innocent Criminals While Peter Wolf Comes Back Without The J.Geils Band

It has been almost a decade since Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals recorded an album together and since then, Ben Harper has been on a musical trip, experimenting with his sound. He played alongside blues legend Charlie Musslewhite, gospel pioneers The Blind Boys of Alabama and even his mother Ellen, but Harper never truly feels at home unless he performs with his long-time band, The Innocent Criminals. Their new album, "Call It What It Is" will be released on April 8th through Stax Records in association with Concord Music.

The new eleven song release gets the momentum flowing in a hurry with the stomp-rhythm and buzzing guitar of "When Sex Was Dirty." The chorus part of "na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na" isn't the greatest writing Harper ever did, but it sure is addictive. Then, he instantly brings the energy down with emotions flowing through "Deeper And Deeper," before powering the politically charged "Call It What It Is," which is centered around the wrongful cop killings that overtook the news media. Harper works his poetry amongst a stark acoustic backdrop in "All That Has Grown," before The Innocent Criminals help bring the energy back up with the album's first single "Pink Balloon." The island vibe of "Finding Out Way" carries the classic Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals sound from earlier albums, before finishing with the quietness of "Goodbye To You." Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals will be on tour for the rest of the year, beginning April 2nd in New York. To find out more about their new album "Call It What It Is," please visit benharper.com.

The iconic front-man of the seventies powerhouse J. Geils Band is returning to release his first solo album in six years titled "A Cure For Loneliness." Peter Wolf began his music adventure as a DJ in Boston, before finding his true calling as a lead singer. His solo career has been almost as successful as his band career, with many of albums making waves on the album charts. His love for the classic R&B sound is the subject of his latest album, which will be released on April 8th through Concord Records.

The new twelve-track release begins with the smooth soulful delivery of "Rolling On" as Wolf's vocals have never sounded better. The ballad "Peace Of Mind" is another perfect setting for Wolf's bluesy vocals, before picking up the tempo with the rockabilly swing of "How Do You Know." Wolf mixes in some live recordings that captured the mood perfectly as with "Wastin' Time" and the acoustic strumming of "Some Other Time, Some Other Place" as you follow his words anywhere they want to take you. He gives a honky-tonk facelift to the J. Geils Band single "Love Stinks," before returning to the soulful delivery of the 50's ballad "Tragedy." The album closes with just Peter Wolf and a guitar telling the short country tale of "Stranger." Peter Wolf is currently on tour, which includes a stop in Hartford, CT next Friday, before continuing along the east coast. To find out more about his new album, "A Cure For Loneliness," please visit peterwolf.com.

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