2020 album. Indie folk pop. Also available on Vinyl.
After the celestial adventures of Lancaster polymath Ben Hall, AKA Mr Ben & the Bens’ previous issue, band-leader Ben Hall finds all the magic he needs on earth with his new album, ‘Life Drawing’, released via Bella Union.
On 2019’s Who Knows Jenny Jones?, Hall plotted the story of a young, shy Pitsmoor woman who returned from an alien encounter newly armed with serious disco-dancingknow-how. ‘Life Drawing’, meanwhile, looks closer to home for its inspiration – Sheffield and thereabouts – for twelve brightly plaintive, character-driven vignettes, set to warm, acoustic, indie-folk-pop backdrops after its predecessor’s close encounters of the synth-driven kind.
A “cloudy thread of narrative” is present, Hall explains, but this time it’s left open for listeners to map routes through it. “The idea with the title is that the songs are character sketches, and their stories coalesce in a place that has a bit of all the towns in the North of England I’ve lived in. Bits of myself in the stories came out unintentionally, so I’d like it if the listener could find those semi-truths from the songs and place them into their own experiences.”
Since their 2017 emergence, Mr Ben and the Bens’ supporters have included Clash and Marc Riley; in addition, they’ve provided touring support to – among others – British Sea Power.
Stretching back to his recording origins in a Lancashire barn circa 2012, Hall’s own musical history ranges from lofi acoustic folk to the skewed electronic experiments of Jenny Jones, with influences including Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, English folk music and Belle and Sebastian. “I like how their approach was actually punk but with an emotional sensibility,” says Hall of the latter. “That totally resonates with what I’m trying to do.”
Tracklisting: On the Beach / How do you Do? / Danny / Faithful Hound / Astral Plane / Minor Keys / Beast in the House / Walking to an Open Sky / The Wind on Spittlehill / Irish Rain / Closing Time / Watering Can