Only Ben Harper could make a breakup-themed, existential-crisis album that goes down as easy as this one. It’s clear that he has big issues on his mind from the first lines of the opener, “Don’t Give Up on Me Now,” which declares that time opens all wounds and that trust will put you in the tomb. But the angst is swept away in a matter of seconds by the song’s rousing chorus hook, which sounds remarkably like something Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne could have cooked up together. That’s not the only time that Harper comes across as a long-lost Wilbury cousin: “Spilling Faith” (which begins with Ringo Starr’s first recorded drum solo since “The End”) recalls every one of ELO’s Beatles nods, while “Dirty Little Lover” is a bar-band workout that might sound crass if it wasn’t so infectiously good-natured. Harper’s trademark sensitivity turns up on a trio of ballads, but the riff-slinging single “Rock N’ Roll Is Free” proves that Harper’s natural territory is the classic-rock comfort zone.
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