There Will Be a Light

There Will Be a Light

4.5 2
by Ben Harper, Blind Boys of Alabama
     
 

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There Will Be a Light delivers in every way on its promise; it's a passionate meeting of kindred spirits. Ben Harper has made the liberationist side of gospel a cornerstone of his music for over a decade, and the Blind Boys have done their thing for nearly six times that. Old souls, indeed. With the versatile Innocent Criminals backing up a quartet of HarperSee more details below

Overview

There Will Be a Light delivers in every way on its promise; it's a passionate meeting of kindred spirits. Ben Harper has made the liberationist side of gospel a cornerstone of his music for over a decade, and the Blind Boys have done their thing for nearly six times that. Old souls, indeed. With the versatile Innocent Criminals backing up a quartet of Harper and septuagenarians Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, and George Scott, There Will Be a Light shines equally on tradition and innovation. The opener, "Take My Hand," shimmies along to a gospel gait, but is rocked out with wah-wah guitar and keyboard flourishes. Harper's lap-steel picking on "11th Commandment" segues into Bob Dylan's "Well, Well, Well," reinforcing the gospel-blues atmosphere of this collaboration. Rather than praise or hymns, Harper and the Blind Boys concentrate on moral songs whose wisdom is universal, such as "Satisfied Mind," which extols spiritual ease instead of worldly luxury. "Picture of Jesus," the most explicit reference to the identity of the man upstairs, is a Harper original recorded on his 2003 album Diamonds on the Inside. There is a sweet inevitability to this recording; Harper was a demon guitarist from day one, but he's never sounded better or more in control of his voice. On the a cappella "Mother Pray," his road-tested falsetto seems to mature into its full expressiveness. It seems like Ben Harper could sing anything now, and that enticing path is but one which this Light illuminates.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Ben Harper's history with the Blind Boys of Alabama has been an evolving one that has moved from being a guest on their Higher Ground offering and touring with them in Europe, to the Blind Boys joining Ben and the Innocent Criminals on-stage at the front and back of their show. This album began as a series of rehearsals for collaboration on a Blind Boys of Alabama record. Recorded in two sessions, the vibe in the room was loose and creative enough that the two acts ended up with an album of material for a joint release. This is "collaboration" in the truest sense of the word. It's not just Ben playing gospel, or the Blind Boys of Alabama singing on a Ben Harper record. These ten tunes -- with seven Harper originals written specifically for the sessions, the rest traditional gospel tunes and covers -- showcase Harper and the Innocent Criminals alongside the Blind Boys of Alabama. The album kicks off with Harper's "Take My Hand," a funky gospel tune that showcases a Fender Rhodes and Harper's wah-wah pedal underscored by the call and response of the Blind Boys repeating the title after each sung line of the verse, before Clarence Fountain takes it out. "Wicked Man" is a Southern soul tune that has a Muscle Shoals groove and a beautiful vocal weave on the refrain. "Church House Steps" is pure gospel groove with a Hammond B3 and a smoking duet between the Blind Boys' layered harmonies and Harper on the verses with full-on blues feel in his singing and playing. There's a killer cover of the Bob Dylan/Danny O'Keefe tune, "Well, Well, Well," with Delta blues bottleneck shimmering through the intertwined vocal lines. The deep, nocturnal sparseness of "Satisfied Mind" is a complete re-reading of the nugget with a swampy backbeat. And this album works beautifully. Nothing sounds forced, all of it loose and comfortable and the vocal performances on both sides are simply stellar. Highly recommended.
Billboard
The album crackles with inspiration and oozes with mutual respect.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/24/2009
Label:
Virgin Records Us
UPC:
5099926793412
catalogNumber:
67934

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ben Harper   Primary Artist,Guitar,Vocals
Blind Boys of Alabama   Primary Artist
Clarence Fountain   Vocals,Group Member
Bobby Butler   Vocals,Group Member
Leon Mobley   Track Performer
Michael Ward   Track Performer
Jason Yates   Track Performer
Juan Nelson   Track Performer
Rock Deadrick   Track Performer
Oliver Charles   Track Performer
Ricke McKinnie   Vocals,Group Member
Tracie Pierce   Group Member
Joey Williams   Vocals,Group Member
Tracy Pierce   Vocals
Jimmy Carter   Vocals
George Scott   Vocals

Technical Credits

Bob Dylan   Composer
Ben Harper   Composer,Audio Production
Jimmy Hoyson   Engineer
Danny O'Keefe   Composer
Jason Yates   Composer,Artwork
Joe Hayes   Composer
Jack Rhodes   Composer
Chris Goldsmith   Executive Producer
Traditional   Composer
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals   Arranger,Producer
Mike Glines   Engineer
Marc Ford   Composer

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