Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Ben Harper has graced the world with 11 studio albums and his multi-instrumental talents, spanning over his two decade career of folk/rock and blues. Childhood Home will be the US singer’s 12th studio album and there is a very special collaboration close to his heart; his mother Ellen Harper. The bond between mother and son is usually strong, it will be interesting and sentimentally curious as to how Childhood Home will do their relationship and professional venture justice.
A House is a Home opens the album with such warmth, the melodies and harmonies between the Harpers are soothing and welcoming; quite fitting for a song in its written nature, it nails that feeling of nostalgia about what makes, well, a house a home. Ellen leads the sentimental City of Dreams, a song reminiscent of a suburban childhood that has been tainted by the construction of highways and elements only captured by her memories; the track captures this emotion with only vocals and guitar to carry it. The beautiful harmonies between mother and son continue in sappy Born To Love You, accompanied by guitars and the gentle piano, and Heavy Hearted World seems to unload its burden onto you as the duo tell of the pain for truth. An added and awesome surprise was the banjo driven Farmer’s Daughter, a head nodding bluegrass/folk track that suits the nasal quality of Ellen’s soothing voice; this track seems to lift the existing atmosphere of the album so far, it was a breath of fresh air to say the least.
We go back to the sentimentality present in the LP with Memories of Gold, a sweet return to the beautiful guitar playing that goes on from song to song; not to mention more of the lush harmonies between the pair. Every album needs a cheesy memory of love tune, Altar of Love is that falling ‘head over heels’ in love song that is perfect for that down key folk sound that puts that happy tear in your eye whether you have experienced love in this way or long to feel it one day. Break Your Heart, sorry to say, does just that; it is not one of the album’s strongest moments, it is one of your cliche ‘love conquers all’ songs which are generally adored, but it just didn’t work out. Learn It All Again Tomorrow didn’t take the album anywhere it hadn’t been so far; and finally How Could We Not Believe ended the LP on a beautiful note with the familiar harmonies and the wonderful tone the guitars create as they accompany each other.
Childhood Home is a pleasant collaboration between mother and son, it is also a must have addition to Ben Harper’s existing catalogue. Ben and Ellen really compliment each other’s voices on the album, no matter who sings the lead and who sings the harmonies they had each other’s backs. Perhaps the album could have made way for a couple of more upbeat tracks, this can be accomplished acoustically, but otherwise Childhood Home is a wonderful listen and you can easily establish a connection with many of the songs.