CD REVIEW: Ben Harper & Relentless7 "Live From The Montreal International Jazz Festival"

Ben Harper is hands down one of the best live musicians in recent years. His energy and his performance standards are at the top of their game at all times, and his catalogue is so deep that his shows are always interesting and hardly repetitive. His recent endeavour with his new band Relentless7 is one of the most fascinating collaborations by a solo musician and a backing band. The entire disc is filled with R7 originals which Harper co-wrote with the other members of the band and they even throw in a few covers for good measure. Jimi Hendrix's "Red House" and "Under Pressure," originally performed by Queen and David Bowie, are the two incredible cover songs that both seem and sound original and pay deep respect of the original performances. Ben and the band are at their best during the heavier rockers like "Shimmer & Shine," "Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)," and "Number With No Name." Their funkier side comes out on "Lay There And Hate Me" and the guys show off on a Ben Harper original from his earlier years, "Another Lonely Day." To sum up the sound of the band's live performance, it's like taking the best of rock of the 70's, 80's, and 90's and mixing it up with Ben Harper's original, organic, and unique soulfulness and just letting it run wild. On their studio release it was evident that these boys had some major rock chops, but it's on this debut live release that they prove it.