Smothered By Love
Way back in the evaporating memories of November 2015, Flush were fortunate enough to see the ever so humble Ben Abraham shyly amble on stage to perform on his lonesome in support of the excellent Other Lives. Just one man, his guitar, many heartfelt stories which were effectively diary pages from his life/relationships and an incredibly gentle, pure, vulnerable voice. He didn’t command the stage by screaming, he ruled with a Zen like peace, and some self deprecating jokes.
Ben had recently signed up to the excellent nurturing indie label Secretly Canadian and had mentioned at the gig that his album ‘Sirens’ would be forthcoming. Now in March 2016 said album has landed on our doorstep, but even the word ‘landed’ sounds way too heavy to describe how gossamer light it tenderly floats towards us. Despite the isolation of Ben on stage, there was never any doubt about his inner strength and like a slow moving brook in summer, you knew that the cotton soft water could cut through the hardest of stone eventually.
Such vulnerability that be a double edged safety razor though, put too many protective bars on it and it stops doing it’s job effectively. The painful emotive cuts that we all experience over the years and are captured and spoken about through art/music, scars we carry and share, and recognise in each others eye.
So it’s a fine line to be able to sing from these life pages and not sound too saccharine or manipulative. That’s not to say at all there is any degree of contrived goings on in the album, far from it, it is super saturated in integrity, but that saturation is at the expense of the pure innocence of watching Ben face up to the world on his own on stage, the feisty true grit that becomes the pearl.
Such core strength doesn’t need gilding. When I heard ‘Speak’ live, EVERYTHING stopped, such is the time travelling power of music. The version on the album is still a VERY beautiful song (as are many of the songs on the album), but the multiple layers in the production and other elements try to envelope the listener to a level that ends up smothering us with love.
Ben’s voice is such a joy to witness/experience in it’s simple virtue it would actually make you believe in higher powers, but as the simple wooden crucifix aptly represents an entire religion, we really don’t need ostentatious gaudy churches to distract from the message. That may sound disparaging towards ‘Sirens’ and that is absolutely not the intention. It is a very sweet and lush/polished and at times beautiful album, but having heard him on his own live, that’s the grittier, simpler version I’m drawn too.
Ben Abraham’ ‘Sirens’ is out now. Follow Ben on @benabrahammusic.