Ben Harper,
Diamonds on the Inside
(Virgin, 2003)

Among the huge amount of music published in the difficult and wild music business of the States that I can access as a foreign listener, sometimes it may be a bit difficult to struggle with all the fluff (no offence meant). Ben Harper's diamonds shine clear and intensely, and there's no doubt about it, as simply as that. His career has become quite sound so far and a bunch of fans on this side of the pond follow his tours every time he decides to come around. That means quite a lot taking into account that he does not have any big marketing campaign supporting all this.

His music is beautiful and full of nuances and, at the same time, he is able to approach very different styles and be so cool about all of them that there's no remedy but to think he is superb. Superb as a songwriter, superb as a guitarist (no, he is not Steve Vai or Joe Satriani and, what the heck, no need for that) and superb as a singer -- what a unique voice!

In Diamonds on the Inside, he demonstrates his ability to jump from one style to another and it's clear how comfortable and confident he feels about it. In the uplifting "With My Two Hands" that opens the album, Bob Marley would have been more than proud to put his signature underneath. And what else could you find in the 13 remaining tracks? There are heaps of good American music: gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, breathtaking ballads, funky, something like vocal African-inspired music and even some kinda-grunge. So, come on, what are you waiting for? That's quite a lot to miss.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Berlanga Ramos
published 8 January 2005

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