There Will Be A Light

Ben Harper may be pure of heart in enlisting classic gospel act the Blind Boys of Alabama to collaborate with him on There Will Be a Light, but even the Blind Boys' graceful voices can't wholly redeem the jammy date-rock icon's platitudinous lyrics ("Take My Hand") and his generic barrelhouse-blues arrangements ("Wicked Man"). The traditional, a cappella "Mother Pray" is the best pure collaboration on the album, a mash of gospel austerity and soul pleading. But mostly the alliance works best when Harper hangs back a bit. "Where Could I Go," which plays like an elegantly spaced Fifties rock ballad, is a wonder, and the stark Bob Dylan composition "Well, Well, Well" sounds like a lost, brilliant 78-rpm side.