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Album Review | BLUES

Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, ‘Get Up!’

Some blues fans worried that this merging of a younger star (Ben Harper) and an aging bluesman (Charlie Musselwhite) might result in just another novelty project. But not so. An inherent nobility runs throughout this noncommercial but inspired music. The album is a beguiling mix of acoustic and electric blues, with harmonica legend Musselwhite weaving in and out like a roadhouse virtuoso. Harper, who calls this the best album he’s ever done, wrote or co-wrote all the songs. Many feature lyrics that encompass retro, delta-blues references but there are also modern tales topped by “I Ride at Dawn,” dedicated to Navy SEAL Nicholas P. Spehar (the brother of a friend), who was killed when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan in 2011. Nearly every song touches the soul, from tracks that echo John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers to the heavy-rocking “I Don’t Believe a Word You Say,” which suggests a loose-jamming Cream. Harper exhibits an original blues voice and, per usual, flashes his overwhelming sense of emotion. Highly recommended. (Out now) - STEVE MORSE

ESSENTIAL “I Ride at Dawn”

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