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Erik Landfried RSS Feed (Chapel Hill, NC)

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Diamonds On The Inside
Diamonds On The Inside
Offered by EJ's Treasures
Price: $14.79
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not His Best Work, But Still Good, March 12, 2003
This review is from: Diamonds On The Inside (Audio CD)
Diamonds on the Inside is a very inconsistent album. On his earlier albums, Ben Harper did a masterful job of melding his genre-bending styles into a cohesive whole. That aspect is noticeably missing from this album. It definitely has its moments, and simply based on Harper's amazing musicianship, this album is better than 99% of the stuff out there today, but for an artist with his talent, it leaves a lot to be desired.
Nonetheless, as Harper sings on this album, "When it's good, it's so, so good." The song that lyric comes from, "When It's Good," is a nice bit of raw blues. The title track sounds like it could have been written by Elvis Costello (which is a compliment). On its own it is a nice pop song, but like most of the tunes, it is performed in such a different mood than the rest of the songs that precede and follow it, it feels a bit out of place. Ballads "When She Believes" and "Amen Omen" are as beautiful as anything Harper has written and translate better to the recording studio than the more upbeat songs.
The best song on the album is the 4th track, "Touch From Your Lust," a regal rock anthem that captures Harper at his best. The song is beautiful in its desperate longing and features his most inventive work on the Weissenborn since "Ground on Down."
While there is enough to satisfy most Harper fans, Diamonds on the Inside is just not as strong as his prior albums. Some tracks are barely listenable, including his failed piece of funk "Bring the Funk" and the overlong opening track, the reggae-tinged "With My Own Two Hands."
As a side note, this album has a strangely 80's vibe to it. This is neither positive nor negative, simply interesting. It often evokes Paul Simon's Graceland, amplified by the fact that the album is called "Diamonds On The Inside" and includes an a cappella track with Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
If you are a huge Ben Harper fan, go ahead and get this album. It certainly has its moments and no doubt the faster songs will translate very well to his live performances. If you aren't a big fan though, I'd recommend buying one of his earlier albums or better yet, his fantastic live album "Live From Mars."


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