In the wake of two EPs, a lovely cover of Arcade Fire’s Rebellion (lies) and a good bit of exposure on Radio One and Six Music it’s true to say that there has been a fair bit of anticipation surrounding this debut and with recent releases by some of the big names in the world of acoustic melancholy there is an awful lot to live up to.
So in the grand scheme of singer-songwriters, where does Benjamin Francis Leftwich fit in? Well initially Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm filled me with excitement, the opening track, Pictures, has strength in its simplicity and is followed by the equally enjoyable Box Of Stones.
Troublingly, however, song begins to merge seamlessly into song, Butterfly Culture adds a nice little bit of intensity but by this stage any hopes of even the tiniest variation – be it musical or vocal – have been dashed. All the songs on this album are good in isolation but as a collection they are just too similar and as a consequence tend to pass you by – this also makes it difficult to connect with the lyrics.
This is a nice album by a nice guy but by playing it safe he fails to capture the imagination like others have in recent years. Perhaps a risk or two on the follow up would close the gap to the heavyweights.