Title - 'Diamonds On The Inside' (Virgin)
Artist - Ben Harper
Quite simply put, Ben Harper is a fantastic musician, and his lyrics are straight from the heart ... he is a lyrical genius! I would compare Ben's music as perhaps a more modern version of the legend Bob Marley, or just as spirited, but deeper Jimmy Hendrix, or even as a male version of the always intriguing Tracy Chapman. Stepping musical stones aplenty here, Harper moves graciously from reggae to rock, to folk to funk and back in what is his fifth studio album. It's still amazing to me that Harper's soulful musical mix continues to defy genre categorization and yet regardless, his growth as an artist continues over onwards. Diamonds On The Inside could well be his most ambitious work to date, tapping a multitude of styles and moods and revolving as usual around his incredibly expressive vocals and searing guitar work. Most of the songs display Harper's growth as a poet, as he ponders the dualities of life and love in tunes like the disturbing "Touch From Your Lust" and the disquietingly lyrical "Amen Omen." Also, for pure self-indulgence, witness the Marley-like "With My Own Two Hands." Some of the guest artists featured on this album are Greg Kurstin (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flaming Lips, Beck) and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Reviewed by Salandrika Chekelfski