Ben Harper, Diamonds on the Inside

By Kevin Rothbauer

Nobody delivers like Ben Harper.

By now, with the release of his fifth studio album–and first since 1999–Harper knows what his fans are expecting, and he surpasses everything they can imagine. Once more, Harper carefully but effortlessly pieces together blues, folk, rock, pop, funk, reggae and gospel, and infuses it all with his own brand of optimistic spirituality. Not only has Harper mastered each of these musical styles, he manages to be sincere in his interpretations. Channeling the ghosts of ’70s rock and roll one moment, praying softly the next, then spilling out some Delta blues; there is an element of truth in every word, every note.

It’s impossible to pick out any stand-out tracks on this disc. Though the songs are so different individually, they merge to form that rarest of birds in today’s single-oriented music world: the complete album.

Ben Harper grows so much with every record, it’s hard to fathom to which heights he’ll go with his next one. One can only hope he doesn’t make us wait four years for it.


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