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June 21, 2024

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Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
Diamonds On The Inside (Virgin Records)

By: Mark A. Lawrence the IV

What Ben Harper dipped his toes into on Burn to Shine, he threw himself head first on the forthcoming Diamonds On the Inside. The 5th studio album, his sixth all together, is a exploration into the roots of music that has developed Ben Harper. Starting on "With My Own Two Hands" a track so steeped in Reggae I had to check my player to see if I'd put Peter Tosh's Equal Rights in by accident. On the other hand, "When It's Good" is strait Delta Blues as if Son House himself was playing along. There's also a strong presence of Funk in several of the songs including "Bring the Funk" (of course). A number with such an infectious groove, even a room of white boys would find themselves dancing and not the dance clubs pole hump either, but a gravity defying with arms moving to counter balance "Yes, We've Been To The Moon" Funk walk This album surpasses Burn to Shine in diversity and power, showing us an evolution of an artist that is becoming aware of his abilities and experimenting with his rang of expression. Backed again by the mastery of the Innocent Criminals, Diamonds has a more musically complex structure which was only hinted at before in prior albums. The one thing that didn't change was the songs themselves. Still aimed at the heart, brought through with lyrics that can stop you cold truly proving he is one of the great song writers of our times. I also commend Harper for the songs directly related to his faith. Especially in a time when it's not fashionable to bring up the subject of Christianity except in Christian specific music, Ben Harper sticks to his guns and sings songs that strongly expresses his beliefs. What is music if it isn't about the things that move us? What's nice about Harper is he isn't hitting anyone over the head to change their minds and he has the musical talent to carry his message which in my opinion is the down fall of most Christian specific bands. But I digress, I got into Harper when I was in college because of a girl I liked. Today, Harper is still in my life, the girl is not. I think I won out on that one. Diamonds is a wonderful album that is definitely worth picking up. Rating: A.
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