Singer/songwriter Ben Harper unveils 18 new songs spread across two discs on the new album "Both Sides of the Gun," due this week via Virgin.

Singer/songwriter Ben Harper unveils 18 new songs spread across two discs on the new album "Both Sides of the Gun," due this week via Virgin. This is Harper's first solo release since 2003's "Diamonds on the Inside," which debuted at No. 19 on The Billboard 200 and has sold more than 470,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

A number of tracks on "Both Sides of the Gun" crackle with intensity and outrage over the political climate in the United States, particularly "Black Rain," the lyrics to which Harper posted last September on his official Web site. The cut lashes out at President Bush's handling of Hurricane Katrina, proclaiming, "Don't speak to us like we work for you / Selling false hope like some new dope we're addicted to / I'm not a desperate man but these are desperate times at hand / This generation is beyond your command."

The first disc delves into a variety of styles, from the swaggering, Black Crowes-style rocker "Get It Like You Like It" to the raw blues of "The Way You Found Me" and the slow-burning, largely instrumental jam "Serve Your Soul" that closes the side.

The second half of "Both Sides" is a much quieter, intimate affair. It opens with the wistful, string-addled ballad "Morning Yearning" and moving on to the Nick Drake-influenced solo guitar confessional "More Than Sorry" and the unabashedly sentimental closer "Happy Everafter in Your Eyes," an ode to Harper's wife, actress Laura Dern.

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