3x GRAMMY® Award-winning singer-songwriter/musician/producer Ben Harper will release his eagerly anticipated, fiercely personal, soulful album, BLOODLINE MAINTENANCE via his new deal with Chrysalis Records on Friday, July 22.
Produced by Harper and GRAMMY® Award-winner Sheldon Gomberg, the album’s lead single “We Need To Talk About It” is available now at all DSPs and streaming services. Propelled by Harper’s blisteringly funky guitar, “We Need To Talk About It” defiantly addresses the wounds of slavery through a sharp-edged call-and-response with gospel-fueled backing vocals and pounding rhythms augmented by the distinctive sound of the African talking drum.
The new album is a work largely inspired by the loss of a longtime friend and the lingering influence of a mercurial and charismatic father. BLOODLINE MAINTENANCE sees Harper performing the majority of the instruments on his own, spanning guitar, bass, drums and an eclectic assortment of percussions including a plastic toy snare. His 17th studio LP – and first since 2020’s instrumental WINTER IS FOR LOVERS –and the first non-instrumental album of new songs since 2018. The new album is further fueled by Harper’s signature lap steel, supercharged through a powerful Dumble amplifier creating a truly unruly tone that Harper describes as “a sort of a merging of Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix.”
“It was like I was moving forward and venturing into places I had never been before,” he says. “Taking everything I’ve learned from every other record and kind of setting fire to it all and starting over. And I knew the sounds I was hearing in my head were so unorthodox that I had to do most of it myself.”
Applying the inventiveness of hip-hop to longstanding paradigms of soul, blues and jazz, spinning it all forward into a reconfiguration of a new black Americana, BLOODLINE MAINTENANCE continues Harper’s long history as one of his generation’s most potent protest singers. Persecuted by local authorities for being a communist, his grandfather moved his family west where their music store, the Folk Music Center and Museum in Claremont, CA, proved a vital hub in a thriving Southern California folk scene. By the time he was 21, he was touring with blues legend Taj Mahal. The years that followed have seen Harper amass international critical applause and a worldwide fan following, winning three GRAMMY® Awards (out of seven total nominations) for his own genre-traversing body of work while also producing acclaimed albums by Mavis Staples, Rickie Lee Jones, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Natalie Maines, and others. An inveterate collaborator, Harper has also recorded with a diverse span of artists ranging from John Lee Hooker, Charlie Musselwhite, Ziggy Marley and Jack Johnson to Ringo Starr, Keith Richards and, most recently, Harry Styles, contributing his signature guitar work to the latter superstar’s chart-topping new album, HARRY’S HOUSE.
Harper – joined by his longtime band, The Innocent Criminals – will herald BLOODLINE MAINTENANCE with an epic world tour highlighted by North American and European headline dates, festival performances, US shows alongside Jack Johnson, and a 15-night run supporting his recent collaborator Harry Styles at Los Angeles, CA’s Kia Forum. More headlining dates will be announced. For updates and ticket information, please visit www.benharper.com/tour.