Sound — 9
Released in 2003, 'Diamonds On The Inside' is the fifth studio album from Ben Harper. It would be virtually impossible to try and categorize Harper's style due to the fact that his music encompasses strong aspects of rock, folk, blues, roots, funk, gospel and reggae. Not to mention the other genres that feature throughout Harper's repertoire. However, I feel that this album is one of the best representations of Harper's genius as it includes all of these aspects and more. Therefore this title is versatile in it's sound, art and message, which makes it one of Harper's best works. The sound in general is very good quality, with Harper and his touring musicians playing extremely well throughout the album. Harper's trademark lap-steel guitar skills are demonstrated with his unique style in songs such as "When It's Good" and "Temporary Remedy". However, it could be argued that, as this is probably what he is best known for, his lap-steel does not feature frequently enough throughout the album. Harper himself also plays a number of other instruments on the album such as Guitar, Bass, Organ and drums, all of which are played with utmost soul and emotion. The album also includes 'Picture of Jesus' an acapella song which really accentuates the idea of versatility throughout the album which only improves the sound of the album! Overall, like Harper's other works, the sound is versatile, good quality and full of emotion, which helps the album to be a real musical adventure for fans of almost any style of music.
Lyrics — 9
Ben Harper is known in the 'modern rock' business for the rich blend of gracious love songs and feisty political diatribes to accompany his unique sound. This album certainly contains the love songs, filled with emotion and soul, they're beautiful. However, my interpretation of the record is that there aren't as many political outcries as featured on other Harper albums such as "Fight For Your Mind" and "Both Sides of the Gun". Initially I felt that this would have a negative effect on the quality of the record. However, the album still contains strong messages in songs such as "With My Own Two Hands". Therefore, I feel the album is just as strong as his other records on this front because it shows that he has a lot to sing about which makes the listener think, which is, in my opinion, an excellent quality in a good album. As for the vocal skills of Harper, he manages to create a diverse sound using a mix of strong soulful tones and sweet falsetto melodies, completing the exemplary sound provided by the instruments.
Overall Impression — 9
In my opinion a good album should make you want to pick up an instrument and make music, make you think and well, make you want to buy more albums; and 'Diamonds On The Inside' certainly has this effect on me. The musicianship is incredible, the versatile blend of sounds makes you want to pick up instruments and give you the desire to express yourself! The lyrics are truly brilliant, they trigger your emotions and make you think about the issues raised. Overall, 'Diamonds On The Inside' is an inspiring, soulful and purely awesome piece of art and I would recommend it to a fan of any genre.