Ben Harper's music career has always been chameleon-like, genre-jumping, and never predictable.
Interestingly New Zealand and Australia switched onto his music long before things took off for him in the States.
Among his now 13-album deep recording career he has notched up three Grammy Awards, and music as diverse as gospel with a record he shared with the Blind Boys of Alabama, and a blues set with Chicago's Charlie Musselwhite. Plus a stellar line up of pop and rock releases.
Harper grew up surrounded by music and musicians at his grand-parents' music store and museum. By 15 he was nailing Robert Johnson's and Son House's slide guitar licks, and his recorded work under his own name was launched in 1992.
With Call It What It Is Ben Harper regroups with the Innocent Criminals and the result is simply a very fine rock album.
Ben and the Criminals are very obviously comfortable with each other, with many songs co-written with the band.
The settings vary considerably, from the Harper-and-slide-guitar-only sparseness of All That Has Grown to the rock anthem When Sex Was Dirty, How Dark is Gone or the title track.
Cohesive, strong melodies and lyrics, insistent bass lines. Just like a real rock album should still sound like, with no pretensions or studio tricks.
Harper has shown he can master more pop-oriented originals like Steal My Kisses or Diamonds on the Inside, but put him together with the Innocent Criminals and an impeccable rock performance is the result.
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals are booked for three North Island only gigs this December.