Album: Give Till It’s Gone
Ben Harper’s Give Till It’s Gone is quite simply a quest for understanding. A self-reflective journey navigating throughout many musical genres, Harper’s tenth LP (largely a solo effort) is a melancholic exploration ripe with rhythmic bliss.
Throughout its duration, a clearly emotionally ravaged Harper passionately embraces change with soulful eloquence, heartfelt honesty and frustrated anger. More than likely an ode to the disintegration of his marriage to actress Laura Dern, the album is the work of an artist at an emotional crossroads.
Commencing slowly and melodically with the sad, weeping guitars of “Don’t Give Up on Me Now” and “I Will Not Be Broken”, the album quickly shifts gears as it propels recklessly into “Rock n’ Roll is Free”, a classic Harper concoction of blues infused alt-rock.
The album is also provided additional musical depth by the appearances of key contributors, Ringo Starr and Jackson Browne. In particular, Starr’s drumming on “Spilling Faith” and “Get There from Here” lends a post-pop Beatles psychedelic aura to both tracks.
What’s truly at the heart of the album is a remorseful and recovering Harper continuing to fight the fight. As the title indicates, he is prepared to do all he can until it is no longer possible to do so. The album is largely devoid of overt sentimentality and instead relies heavily on confrontational and questioning emotional catharsis, which is a welcome addition to the sonic scope of Harper’s work.
In a sense, the personal anguish of Harper’s life has led to his most profound work in…well, forever.