My friend Ben recently digitally released a solo album (physical discs coming soon with package artwork by the fabulous Jodi Hays). It's really good. I played cello on it. I'm really proud of my contributions. As in, "I can't believe I sound that good right there and that moment gives me goosebumps" proud of it. Specifically, track 7.
Anyway, I went ahead and submitted my review to amazon and iTunes. I encourage you to get this album and to listen to it thoroughly.
Here's the review:
(Full disclosure: I play cello on some of these tracks, though I have no financial stake in it.)
I've listened to this album a few times over the last few days. It rewards focused listening from start to finish. There's flow and understated beauty throughout these songs that variously put a lens on individual lives and relationships and tell stories of love, failure, loss, family, brokenness, healing, and hope. There are gorgeous sonic moments throughout.
The album is half instrumental tracks and half songs with lyrics, and all the tracks have a thoroughly crafted sensibility--fully realized with different textures and colors, building layers judiciously at just the right moments, never with too much. Some tracks groove and drive; others breathe full and slow. These are rich, acoustic soundscapes, and there are stories in all the songs, even the ones without lyrics.
The opening track, As I Mused, the Fire Burned, pulls you in like a steady tide. For You I Wait (track 5) is a study in sparseness, drawing everything it can out of a simple electric guitar groove, with the slightest support from percussion and lovely highlights from spacey, meandering clarinet lines that weave in and out. Rain On Consequence (track 7) is a personal favorite. I Lie Silenced (track 9) is an instrumental signpost that points back to the opening track; instead of the insistent piano pattern of the opener, the song presents a slowed down melodic motif, carried by a clear violin and punctuated by a stately pulse of chords underneath. The effect is somewhat reminiscent of Michael Giacchino's score work on Lost. The Wreckage (track 12) is, as the title might imply, a bit gut-wrenching. The closing track, All's Lost, All's Found, takes the thread started in the opening track and carried in I Lie Silenced and turns it into a brief, haunted epilogue, bordering on a lament, but still a reminder that beauty endures despite life's hardships.
Ben is a talented guitarist and singer and multi-instrumentalist sideman for other artists. He has a producer's exacting sensibilities, and this album is the fruit of years of labor, finally putting forth a cohesive project that reflects his own artistic voice. I'm proud to have been a part of this project, I'm excited to see what he does next, and I look forward to supporting his work in the future.