May 18, 2009 12:00 PM

White Lies for Dark Times |

CRITIC’S CHOICE

BLUES-ROCK

When it comes to backup band loyalty, everybody isn’t Bruce Springsteen. Take Ben Harper: After making 2007’s Lifeline, among others, with the Innocent Criminals, he hooks up with Relentless7—a trio, not a septet—on his latest. The shake-up seems to have energized Harper, who sounds charged-up on rockers like the Hendrixian “Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart).” Elsewhere, the CD goes from the bluesy boogie of “Why Must You Always Dress in Black” to the Stonesy soul of “Lay There & Hate Me.” On the latter, Harper sings, “I feel like an underpaid concubine/ Who’s overstayed her welcome.” Relentless7, however, is welcome to hang around.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Up to You Now,” a festival-ready anthem

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