To many the name Ben Harper does not ring any bells. Many people do not know him, many have not heard him and many have only heard his chart topping single “Diamonds on the inside”. But for me and many others out there Ben Harper is pure genius. As mentioned in his description on the main page, to define him to a singular genre is almost impossible. His repertoire comprises of rock, indie and folk, blues amongst others and this album is no exception.
Burn to shine comes 2 years after his well acclaimed “Will to Live” and is his 4th album overall.
The album begins with “Alone”. a quiet and heartfelt song lead by Ben Harper on his electric. The guitar work is nothing special but really supports the serious nature of the beautiful yet powerful lyrics. Ben Harper explores his inner thoughts and tells about his fear of being alone and questions whether he would be able to go on without his wife (Lauren Dern).
The next song is “Woman In You” and is again a very heartfelt and passionate song. Harpers guitar work is yet again of a simplistic nature as is the drumming but this suits the lyrics lyrical nature of the song perfectly yet again. Every instrument seems to complement the other and Harpers voice is strong yet mellow throughout the duration. As aforementioned the lyrics are again superb. For example “the woman in you is the worry in me” exemplifying harpers feelings about his wife even further.
“Less” is and unlike its name would suggest it definitely up to standard of the two songs before it. The song is more rock based then the others with much faster and more upbeat drumming and guitar riffs as we are presented with Ben harpers fantastic slide guitar work and get a glimpse at why he is so highly acclaimed for it. the lyrics are yet again fantastic. E.g. “if your happy with nothing you’ll be so very happy with me”. Yet again demonstrating how there is much more to Harpers musical journey then merely the tune.
That leads to the 7 minute epic “Two Hands of a Prayer”. Everything about this song is brilliant. The song pyramids upwards in tempo from start to finish as Ben harpers voice builds in power and his true vocal talent is shown off at around the 5 minute mark through his beautiful yet powerful humming. The guitar work in this is nothing exceptional but serves its purpose well as it keeps the song rolling at a decent tempo throughout the duration. Definitely one of the most lyrically powerful songs on the album. The passion contained within this song is something that should be experienced by all.
“Please Bleed” is next and is (in my opinion) the best song on the album and my all time favourite overall. The guitar work is again of a simplistic and repetitive nature but it is in this repetitiveness that the mood of the song is really set and in which Ben harpers vocals can shine. The chorus of “please bleed so I know you are real, so I know that you can feel, the damage you have done” is absolutely brilliant and has one the best guitar riffs of the album to go with it.
The 50's style jazz/ blues outing “Suzie Blue” is next and has always felt out of place to me. The song really seems to drag on and on and on at the same slow and boring tempo as does Harpers voice. That’s all I have to say on this painstakingly boring song. Big let down of the album.
The well known single “Steal My Kisses” is next and it a very up beat and up tempo song. The beat boxing is a nice inclusion at the start and from there Harpers voice takes over and keeps the tempo up throughout the whole song. Lyrically this song isn’t all that special but its definitely a has all the qualities of a radio single. Fast, upbeat and catchy.
“Burn to Shine”, the true hard driven rock song of the album and probably the best one to listen to if you are new to his music. The electric guitar is this song is brilliant as is the upbeat drumming. The song goes along at a much faster pace then all others before it and is the most addictive on the album by far.
“Show Me A Little Shame” is quite possibly the weakest track on the album. Extremely repetitive, this song crawls along at a snails tempo the whole way through and not even ben harpers voice can save this one. Boring as hell.
Similar to burn to shine “Forgiven” is another hard driven rock song and shows that ben is not merely a folk or blues singer. The lyrics in this song are great once again as forgives his wife for any wrong she has done. The guitar work in this is quite possibly the best of the album as the riff in the chorus can prove.
“Beloved One”- The slowest and possibly most breath taking song on the album harpers voice floats through this song and is well complemented by the inclusion of a piano. A song filled with passion and sung from the heart, Harper takes his lyrics to a new level as he speaks out about his love for his wife.
“In my lords arms” closes off this album beautifully, keeping the mood soft and laid back this song is not meant to be anything special, rather it is meant to meet the mood of the previous tracks and basically sign off. The song is slow and sombre in nature and it a fitting end to a fantastic album.