Ben Harper

(Ben Harper: Anthony Mandler/Corbis Outline)

Diamonds on the Inside

Lead Performer: Ben Harper; Producer (group): Virgin, Virgin Records

On his fifth album, Diamonds on the Inside, Harper and his Innocent Criminals segue from reggae to rock to funk to blues and even gospel with terrifying ease. The result could be mere Xerox rock, but Harper’s distinctive and committed vocals both unify and lift the music above homage. The reverence with which the band approaches its reconstructive craft, however, leaves little room for wit, or even meaning (not that songs like ”Touch From Your Lust” require much exegesis). Harper’s got very little to say, but at least he says it beautifully.

Originally posted March 21 2003 — 12:00 AM EST

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