'Inside' Edition

Ben Harper

HarperKnown for his improvisation on stage, singer/songwriter Ben Harper says he brought the same mindset into the studio for the recording of his fifth studio album, "Diamonds on the Inside," due this week from Virgin.

"This record was a little bit different because I wanted to see where we would go bringing a song out of thin air," says Harper. "Even though the songs were written, there was no pre-production. It was just in the studio, here is the song, and go. No demos, nothing. Just instant spontaneity and improvisation, which I think is the reason why this record sounds like this record sounds."

The 14-track set is a quintessential Ben Harper album, with styles ranging from rootsy rock ("Touch From Your Lust") and funk ("Bring the Funk"), to countrified jams ("Diamonds on the Inside") and worldbeat African explorations ("Picture of Jesus," featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo).

Harper and his band the Innocent Criminals are currently in rehearsals, preparing for what should be a year of touring, including an Australian and New Zealand trek later this month and a mostly outdoor stateside jaunt this summer, both with opener Jack Johnson. "I can't wait to tour this entire record," says Harper. "I've never been more excited musically in my entire life. I can't wait to play these songs."