Posts Tagged ‘Ben Harper’

Maybe it’s because spring is around the corner, bringing its sense of new beginnings. Or maybe it’s a renewed sense of zen after taking a step back from reality for a little while. Whatever the case, I’ve decided it’s high time to just let things go. Grudges don’t help anyone out, don’t do anyone any favours. They really only affect you, occupying your every thought, impacting your every emotion. So if someone’s throwing shade your way, let it slide. Move on. Cut your losses. Because this can be a lot harder than it seems, here are a few tracks to help you rid yourself of all that drama.

“Shine” by Mondo Cozmo

This song from Philly-bred, LA-based artist Josh Ostrander, is about figuring out the right path to take, and finding one’s way through it. The music is hopeful and more than anything, it reminds us there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help.

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac

A track from 1975, that remains relevant to this day. The sadness in Stevie Knicks’ voice, and the lyrics full of reflection, can’t help but make us think that no matter what happens to us, life moves forward. Sometimes, you just have to leave the past behind, be the bigger person, and focus on the future; as hard as it may be.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” by Oasis

Wise words from these Britpop royals.

“Walk Away” by Ben Harper

Ben Harper has this magical way of using his voice, music and lyrics to convey the deepest of emotions, completely effortlessly. The track says it all.


“Let it Go” by James Bay

Typically, I don’t lean towards overplayed Top 40 pop music, but there’s just something about this one. Bay masterfully controls his voice, making you feel everything he does. The lyrics, though simplistic at times, are also real which helps the listener relate to Bay’s woes.



We’ve all been there, it’s happened to each and everyone of us: the good old heartbreak. Whether from a significant other, a family member, even a friend, we’ve all been down the treacherous self-loathing path of why is this happening to me? I’m the misery-likes-company type of person, so when I’m down in the dumps, I need some friends to help me feel it all; here are some I’ve found along the way. (Note: in an attempt to broaden horizons, I’ve distanced this list from well-known artists, so don’t freak out.)

10. “I Hope Your Heart Runs Empty” by Neverending White Lights feat. Scott Anderson

Okay, so this track dates quite a few years back, but still has a way of getting under my skin. NWL is actually a one-man band of Daniel Victor who writes, performs and produces all his music, then gets quasi-known singers to provide vocals. In this case it’s Canadian punk band Finger Eleven’s lead singer. He has such a harrowing voice, it just crawls all over you.

Best line: “Stole a look away from your eyes, stole a look and finally paid your price”

9. “Cup of Coffee” by Garbage

Although it’s one of the lesser known tracks from this fantastic rock band, it’s also one of their most moving ones. It’s frustrating and angering, and so disheartening. Shirley Manson’s voice is heavy but tender; the music is both harsh and eerie. When someone ends things with you and you feel blindsided, this is probably how you’d feel.

Best line: “It took a cup of coffee, to prove that you don’t love me”

8. “Run” by Snow Patrol

From the initial guitar hook, to the aura of defeated in the vocals, this track had me instantly. This band has put out a lot of great tracks, but this one just has something special about it. It’s tragic, but it’s also heartfelt. It’s about two people who need to separate (geographically, it seems) and are having a tough time with it. Who can’t relate to what’s happening here?

Best line: “To think I might not see those eyes, it makes it so hard not to cry”

7. “Walk Away” by Ben Harper

The classic tale of knowing when to let go, even if you’re not ready to. If a relationship has ended due to circumstances or timing (and not because the love has faded), this is your jam. Harper has this insanely telling voice, full of so much expression and each and every intonation possible. His words cut deep, hit hard and make you want to cry all over. It’s a true lesson in doing the right thing, even though it hurts. A lot.

Best line: “But I would rather be locked to you, than live in this pain and misery”

6. “Personal” by Stars

One of the best ways to truly depict troubles in a relationship is to use both male and female vocals. You get to see/hear both sides of the story and feel even more immersed in the emotions. This track actually makes you feel like you got punched in the gut. Girl likes online version of boy, boy likes online version of girl. They decide to meet in person, but one of them decides they don’t like the real-version of the other. It shatters your heart in so many ways, addressing all our insecurities and how we think others see us.

Best line: “I was sure you saw me, but it wasn’t meant to be”


5. “Lost & Found” by Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas needs more credit: she’s phenomenal. She’s part R&B, part singer-songwriter and all soul. There’s a bit of a naiveté and innocence to her voice, which makes her sound even more relevant. It’s like she’s experiencing all these things for the first time. She’s exploring the world and finding out that sometimes it’s painful and it sucks and it’s confusing. This tune is part introspection, part crushing, and all therapy.

Best line: “You broke me and taught me to truly hate myself”

4. “Angels” by The xx

The xx are one of those bands that understand music and sounds so incredibly well, they know exactly how to bring all elements of a song – instruments, vocals, production – in perfect harmony, so that the track is felt from every direction. When Romy isn’t singing, the instruments and music do it for her, taking the listener on a continuous journey. This track is all about finding that elusive connection we all seek, and how overwhelming it can be we it’s found.

Best line: “You move through the room, like breathing was easy”

3. “9 Crimes” by Damien Rice

Damien Rice has such a delicately refined voice, able to hit all the lows and reach all the highs. What makes this track so engaging is it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on. It’s dramatic and heavy and ominous. There seems to be some sort of adulterous situation going on, there are guns involved, and the male and female vocals both talk about bad timing and being horrible people. I have yet to identify 9 actual crimes, but man, this is a good one.

Best line: “Leave me out with the waste, this is not what I do”

2. “About Today” by The National 

I’ve written/spoken about this track time and time again. It should be a staple go-to track in everyone’s life. It’s one of the most real and honest tracks about the dissolution of a relationship. It’s awkward and tense, and you feel the constant knot in your stomach growing and growing, until you find yourself audibly sighing, because you know where this is headed. It even sounds like the violins are crying. If you don’t find yourself crawled up in the a fetal position by the end of it, you have no soul.

Best line: “You just walked away, and I just watched you; what could I say?”

1. “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars

This song pulls at each and every heart string one by one, and letting every single one echo for what seems like eons. It’s so full of pain and hurt and despair. It’s melancholic but folky, and sung with so much precision and sadness, you can’t help but feel all the dread in the air. This couple is on 2 completely different pages, and take turns expressing their inner monologue. Every line is full of contradictions, just like so many relationships. Ugh.

Best line: “I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you” 

I know it has to come eventually, I know I can’t avoid it, I know it’s all part of life: I’m turning 30 this week and have no idea how to feel about it. People keep saying 30s are the new 20s, you’re only as old as you feel and age is just a number. To them I say, yeah right. Getting older only makes me think of the years gone by and I can’t help but reflect. If I’ve learned anything in the last 30 years, it’s that being yourself is more important than blending in. I tend to live in my head most of the time and have always found that music is capable of doing all the talking for me. What I listen to is a reflection of who I am and how I feel, and the five following albums have all been instrumental in reminding me of that.

1. Achtung Baby. U2. 1991

U2 was my very first favourite band. Most would argue that 1987’s The Joshua Tree was their best album and though it had better individual singles, as a whole, Achtung Baby came out on top. It was my first real glance into rock music and I haven’t looked back since – you can’t compete with  powerful vocals, backed by a killer electric guitar, intense bass and bewildering drums. My exposure to U2 has opened my mind to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M. and pretty well any other rock band I know.
Favourite Track: ‘One’
Honourable Mention: ‘Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World’

2. Welcome to the Cruel World. Ben Harper. 1994.

This was the first Ben Harper album I ever bought and thank goodness I did. Throughout the album, his voice is incredibly soft and effortless, yet also strong; his lyrics are simple but meaningful, like he’s inside my head and able to express exactly what’s going on in there. Some of his tracks are just him and his guitar – a combination also adopted by City and Colour, Jack Johnson and Damien Rice, that never fails to give me chills. But most importantly, Ben Harper is why I fell in love with the acoustic guitar.
Favourite Track: ‘Walk Away’
Honourable Mention: ‘Forever’

3. Live at Luther College. Dave Matthews Band. 1996.

I’ll admit that it took more time than it should have to become a fan of DMB, but after listening to this two-disc album there was no way I could avoid it. Dave tells stories of how some of their tracks came to fruition, and performs them with only Tim Reynolds accompanying him on acoustic guitar. He sings his profoundly beautiful lyrics with so much conviction, and gets so overwhelmingly involved in his music, that every feeling gets translated through his guitar. Music to my ears.
Favourite Track: ‘Lover Lay Down’
Honourable Mention: ‘Seek Up’

4. Boxer. The National. 2007.

What can I say? My gateway album into Indie music and everything it has to offer. It’s emotional, deep, sometimes dark but always delivered so eloquently. The National have this infinite ability to capture a sentiment and build an entire song around it – their way with words is such a focal point of their music, a refreshing quality in today’s day and age. Since them I have discovered Bon Iver, The Civil Wars and so many other bands who understand the impact of expressing themselves as honestly and meticulously as they do.
Favourite Track: ‘Slow Show’
Honourable Mention: ‘Brainy’

5. Intimacy. Bloc Party. 2008.
The first time I heard Bloc Party, was on the television in a hotel room in Nice. I couldn’t help but be captivated by what I was hearing: my first insight into rock music blended with electronic sounds coming together in perfect harmony. Thematically, the album mostly deals with loss, but somehow the music masks the heaviness of it all, without taking away its significance. My admiration for Bloc Party led me to Metric, The xx and other bands who concentrate just as much on the sounds they create and the music they make, as what they say and how they say it.
Favourite Track: ‘Signs’
Honourable Mention: ‘Biko’

These albums have stood out to me most in the last 30 years because I had to do a double take, I had to listen to them once and then once again. I couldn’t have imagined my last 30 years without this music and I don’t foresee myself not needing them in the next 30. It’s what I relate to, what I feel most comfortable around. These albums have opened my mind to so many other possibilities and that’s what being yourself does – people respect you and appreciate your honesty, even if they’re not on the same page. My advice to those also on their way to 30: surround yourself with what makes you feel most like you, because the best thing you’ll ever be at is yourself.