Benedict Benjamin is the new solo project from Ben Rubinstein formerly of UK indie-folk acts The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue (Wichita). We have the pleasure in sharing with you his debut album ‘Night Songs’, released 25th March on Sugarcoat Records, a dreamy concoction of sixties pop, rock and folk with occasional psychedelic flourishes to send you spinning into the most dense of daydreams.
The album was recorded in a series of churches, bedrooms and kitchens across London and Kent with UK-based musician and producer Dan Blackett (Landshapes, Bella Union), and comes from a period Benedict spent living nocturnally, battling insomnia and working nights. ‘I’d finish work around 1 to 3 am most of the time and walk home through the broken glass on the pavement. There’s a lot of duality about that time. It’s ominous and lonely but it’s cinematic and kind of magical too. I wanted to channel that into a set of songs’.
‘Night Songs’ expresses that cold romance by undercutting the dream-like beauty of early 60s pop music with lyrics both frank and poetic, creating a powerful Lynchian duality that makes the heart swell and the head spin. It is full of the operatic crescendo of Roy Orbison and the lullaby-like stillness of the Everly Brothers but it’s invested with an honesty that feels both truly modern and its own.
Benedict’s brittle, heartworn and beautifully delicate compositions are sung with a wonderfully pure vocal style – the silken lilt of his voice acting as an instrument that can be both earthy and wounded, evident on such songs as ‘Had What You Had’ and the celestially elegant, ‘Move on Those Tired Feet’.
Across the album he uses the essential realities and ambiguities of love, heartbreak and life as a foundation for his songwriting, no more evident than in the slow waves of emotion that surge and crest in ‘I Wish Your Lies Were Better’, or the rasp and rustle of ‘Coward’, a delicate song about the determination and strength required of adulthood ‘to be happy one must break a knuckle now and then/ An honest heart will come to blows with many men’.
The Neil Young inspired bluesy rock of ‘My Feet Have No Need For The Ground’ and the soaring ‘Had What You Had’ show Benedict at his most stark and direct while the unnervingly hushed ‘The Hardest Thing’ and the recent single ‘Thin Skin’, gently tugs on the heart strings and treads a similar path to Kurt Vile, Kevin Morby and The War on Drugs.
“The album took a year and a lot of struggle to complete but I’m really proud of it. It was written at and about a point in my life when I realised I wasn’t that young anymore and had to really start fighting if I wanted to be happy.”
Having supported Americana folk-rock singer songwriter Samantha Crain on her 2015 UK tour and performed at the Green Man Festival in the summer, Benedict has recently received radio support from Lauren Laverne, Mary Anne Hobbs, Dermot O’Leary, Jon Hillcock and Chris Hawkins at BBC 6 Music along with John Kennedy at Radio X. He is set to perform a number of gigs in the capital in coming weeks.
Night Songs is released March 25th
Order it via Bandcamp here: benedictbenjamin.bandcamp.com/album/night-songs