American singer-songwriter Ben Harper recently released revitalized B-side versions of “Joshua Tree” and “Inland Empire.” Both tracks originally appeared in 2020’s Winter Is For Lover’s, which is the three-time Grammy winning artist’s fifteenth studio album.
While the original version of these tracks featured a lone Harper on the slide guitar, the new B-sides feature an ensemble including Robert Glasper, Jimmy Paxson and Mike Valerio. The new instrumentation adds layers and dimensions to both cathartic songs. The arrangement of “Joshua Tree” is still arid and sprawling, but now there are colorful interchanges and hints of intimate vibrancy around every slide guitar progression. String instruments brush in and out of focus as wind instrument are also utilized with brevity to only serve the enthralling breathing room the song serves.
“Inland Empire” is similarly expanded upon in this new version. The slide guitar still cuts the path ahead, but now along the way there’s a sense of a cohesive progression growing steadily. The drums kick in with perfect execution, and the opportunity for playful, emotional expression in the rhythms presented never stops until the song’s conclusion. The song is gorgeous and lush, like the warm summer breeze one feels on a window down drive through rustic, wooded entanglements.
“It is hard to call these B-Sides,” Harper explained in a press statement, “They are another iteration of the album that exists and I am very excited we found a way to release these versions. Going into Capitol Studios with Robert, Mike and Jimmy – 3 of my all-time favorite musicians in the world – with Niko Bolas engineering, was off the chain. Music happened between the laughter and the joy. I hope you can hear that in these sessions.”
For more on Ben Harper, check out another new release of his, the positively motivated “Black Beauty.”