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Ben Harper Gets Relentless With New Band, Album

Of the Oakland Press

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“White Lies For Dark Times” is Ben Harper’s 10th studio album. But he likes to call it his “second first record.”

The 11-song set, which came out May 5, marks Harper’s full-length debut with his latest band, Relentless7, which had previously recorded one song on his 2006 double album, “Both Sides of the Gun.” And while he dismisses the common notion that he’s “gone rock” on this album — “I’ve always been rock, let’s not kid ourselves,” he contends — Harper acknowledges that “White Lies” does put him on a new creative trajectory.

“There’s only four of us,” explains Harper, 39, who has two children with his wife, actress Laura Dern. “Playing with four people is almost like playing solo acoustic ... There’s nowhere to hide. There’s no place to retreat, musically and creatively. You have to be full-force, and you have to be thinking on your feet.

“It demands that you maneuver with reckless abandon, but at the same time, you have to be paying attention. One false move and it could be ... jarring.”

Harper has put the Relentless7 through some high-profile paces so far, including performances at this year’s South By Southwest Music + Media Conference, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a batch of late-night TV appearances and a taping of “Austin City Limits.” The group will also play on June 13 at this year’s Bonnaroo Music Festival.

And, he adds, the troupe is already primed for its next album.

“At rehearsals for the past two months, all we’ve been doing is writing new material,” he reports. “I think we’ve probably got the framework for 10 (songs), but there are four finished songs ... I would play live tomorrow.”

Ben Harper and Relentless7 perform at 9 p.m. Friday (May 15) at St. Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are sold out. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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