Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

Album: Lifeline

Label: Virgin/EMI

Release date: Aug. 28

**** (out of 5)


Old School. It’s a term tossed around more often than it’s brought into practice — but Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals seem to kick it capably on their latest release, Lifeline.

Recorded in a week and right on the heels of a 10-month tour, Lifeline emits a warm, road-weary energy through some honest rock and soul.

While the Memphis soul-strained testimonials of Needed You Tonight and Heart Of Matters echo some Stax Records glory, the gospel bounce of Say You Will updates some classic Aretha. Be it through reggae bass-filled jams, strolling railroad blues or Ben’s sad-breathed balladry, the band relies on its strengths to extend its hybrid of groove-rock.

While the gonna-be-all-right vibe may still be a little much for some, Harper’s supporters and fans of good home-cooked tunes should have their fill.