Ben Harper

Both Sides of the Gun

Two very different CDs make up this double album. The first offers mellow, melancholy songs with titles like “Morning Yearning” (nice string section on this one), “Waiting for You” and “Reason to Mourn.” It’s a bit depressing, but there’s some good stuff here, especially Harper’s guitar work. One thing’s for sure: it’s not one to listen to after a breakup. The second disc cranks it up a notch in volume, tempo and political motivation. Harper has fun with different musical styles here, too. He’s funky on the title track, he gets jazzy in “The Way You Found Me” and there’s a definite ’70s disco vibe going on in “Black Rain.” And, like many artists today, Harper seems motivated by the war in Iraq on “Gather ’Round the Stone,” in which he sings: “You’re too young to know / That you’re too young to go / There’s no freedom to be found / Lying face up on the ground.” Note: If you opt for the special edition, the bonus CD is basically made up of alternate versions of songs on the original two. Worth it for the avid, but not average, fan.