This week in GO! Magazine’s music section

Friday, August 26th, 2011, 9:55 am by Ben Salmon

The popular and prolific singer-songwriter Ben Harper returns to Bend tonight for the first time in more than five years. And lucky us, he’s currently touring behind the best album of his long career, “Give Till It’s Gone,” which was released in May.

Here’s Harper doing one of the intensely raw and personal songs from the album.

Here’s part of what I wrote:

“Give” is the man’s best work yet, kicking off with the melancholy tone of “Don’t Give Up on Me,” the slow-burn defiance of “I Will Not Be Broken” and the playful, Wilco-esque chug of “Rock N’ Roll Is Free.” Later, Harper tries to find hope in a doomed relationship as “Pray That Our Love Sees the Dawn” lopes along an understated groove.

Occasionally, the somber fog lifts. “Clearly Severely” and “Do It For You, Do It For Us” are, quite simply, scorching rockers that sound like catharsis happening inside your headphones. And the album’s high point is also it’s centerpiece: two sprawling, psychedelic songs (co-written by Ringo Starr) called “Spilling Faith” and “Get There From Here” that flow together and stand out as an oasis of hope in a murky sea of anger and regret.

But it’s that “lens of anger and regret,” the L.A. Times pointed out in its review of “Give” back in May, that “provides Harper a musical focus he’s never had.” And it’s that focus that sets Harper’s newest work apart from his too-often unremarkable back catalog.

I hope you’ll click here and read the whole thing.

Next up: After years gigging around Bend, local musical couple The Quons have their first album ready for release and they’ll celebrate it with a big CD-release show Saturday at PoetHouse Art. Click here to read my feature story on these fine folks.

Elsewhere in this week’s music section: Brothers Young and Hurtbird play an early show at Parrilla Grill, Maverick’s Country Bar hosts the twangy Lee Brice, and eclectic singer-songwriter Nathan Leigh hits The Sound Garden. Plus The Mostest and the Shireen Amini Band at Parrilla, a heavy bill (Stillfear, Tentareign, Sons of Dirt) at Players, Eric Tollefson plays a free show in Redmond and Blackstrap takes their bluegrass to Elk Lake Resort.

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