This week ‘For The Turnstiles’ features one of the best ‘Supergroups/Side Projects’ of 2010; ‘Fistful of Mercy’. The band formed early last year and consists of Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur and Dhani Harrison who is the son of George Harrison.
The Fistful of Mercy album entitled ‘As I Call You Down’ was released in October 2010 and was accompanied by a few live dates and TV appearances including appearing on the new Conan show featuring Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello.
While the album isn’t anything groundbreaking it offers fans of Ben Harper & Joseph Arthur an album to enjoy and introduces the world to the voice of Dhani Harrison. The 9 acoustic based tracks are probably closest to the solo material normally released by Ben Harper. Some songs like ‘Fathers Son’ above flirt with Rootsy Blues. There’s a gorgeous instrumental called ’30 Bones’ featuring all three members playing acoustic guitars and accompanied by violin and piano. The best songs on the album are the tracks ‘Fistful of Mercy’, the opening track ‘In Vain or True’ and this track ‘Restore Me”.
Ben Harper is one of my favourite artists of all time and I’ve been very fortunate to have seen him live three times. I was at his Vicar Street gig way back in 1999, in Birmingham in 2003 and then again in Hyde Park in 2008. I discovered Ben as result of a Tower Records fire sale when his album ‘Fight For Your Mind’ was going for a pound on cassette. I love the musicianship, his voice, the constant genre surfing within albums, the sound he gets from a Weissenborn and the songwriting.
Ben Harper – Fight For your Mind
If you explore Ben Harper’s music fully I’d recommend you check out the excellent double live album ‘Live From Mars’ from 2001. The first cd is the full band version while the second cd is just Ben Harper acoustically. He recently formed a rock band called Relentless 7 which I’m not a big fan of. Maybe in the future he’ll go back to his old back catalogue. He did have a number one single in 2008 in Brazil and Portugal with the massive South American star Vanessa Da Mata.
Vanessa Da mata & Ben Harper – Boa Sorte/Good Luck
Joseph Arthur burst onto the music scene with the 2000 hit ‘In The Sun’ from the album ‘Come to Where I’m From’. I got to see Joseph in Whelans in 2005 and it was the first time I seen someone effectively using loop pedals without over indulgence. He has written many good songs but I’m nearly always left a little disappointed by his albums. It wasn’t until 2008 that Joseph Arthur made the most complete album in terms of quality with his band The Lonely Astronauts called ‘Temporary People’.
Dhani Harrison is the final part of ‘Fistful of Mercy’ and in many respects the least known musically! His band is called ‘thenewno2’ referencing the old TV show The Prisoner. In 2008 they released their debut album ‘You Are Here’.
The Fistful of Mercy album is available here: http://www.merchlackey.com/fistfulofmercy/
As I Call You Down
1. In Vain Or True
2. I Don’t Want To Waste Your Time
3. As I Call You Down
4. Father’s Son
5. Fistful Of Mercy
6. 30 Bones
7. Restore Me
8. Things Go ‘Round
9. With Whom You Belong