Thursday, October 6, 2011

He also has Diamonds on the Soles of his Shoes

Ben Harper
Diamonds on the Inside
2003, Virgin
produced by Ben Harper

Ben Harper - guitars, vocals, organ, bass, drums
Nikki Panicci - guitars
Greg Kurstin - keyboards, pianos
Leon Mobley - drums, percussion
Juan Nelson - bass

  • Diamonds on the Inside

This is my favorite Ben Harper album so far. This is the first album Ben Harper has produced by himself without JD Plunier. I've always been amazed why established artists need producers, most of the time the musician has a shared producer credit anyway. Why not just cut out the middle man altogether?

Diamonds on the Inside appears to be Ben Harper's homage to Paul Simon's Graceland. Not only is the title track reminiscent of Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (and an inversion), but both albums share similar rhythms and harmonies. Also, The Ladysmith Black Mombaso makes an appearance on Picture of Jesus, just like they appear on Simon's Homeless.

There is an obvious Christian theme to this record, as seen on several tracks, including Amen Omen, Blessed to be a Witness, and Picture of Jesus. This album is fantastic from start to finish. No song is skippable. Each track has its own beauty, and while some may be turned off by religious messages, I believe that regardless of your belief system, some lyrical messages are more about being a good human, rather than a good Christian/ Muslim/ Buddhist/ or whatever. Plus, it would be a gross denial to not understand how much of an impact religion has made on social norms, personal morals, and shared cultural experience, even among those who don't practice or worship any theological expression. The gospel influence in Ben Harper's music separates it from other neo-blues forms. 

On a side note, this is another one of those Ben Harper albums that I no longer own. I have to stop loaning things to bitches.  

An adendem 12/26/17: I did pick up a second copy of this record, replacing the one that was stolen. 

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