Benjamin Wetherill - Laura
Miss Fliss 26/07/2008
When I heard that A Hawk and A Hacksaw had produced this album, I was half expecting a vodka-spilling riotous knees-up, such is their own oevre. However, Benjamin Wetherill's debut album is a lot more subdued than that. It washes over you like a soothing cool stream in a fairytale forest. This is thoughtful, gentle eastern European folk-jazz.
Songs are subtle and lilting. Benjamin's voice has the faintest tinge of a tremulous Devendra Banhart, but sadly we're not lead on a path of bonkers pop melody a la Devendra.
Whilst the range of instruments may be wild (cymbalom, bratch, Stroh violin, tin whistle), the pace of the album is consistently middling. Perhaps it's the lack of drums that I take umbrage with, since drums could add some much needed (and fitting) dramatics to proceedings. Instead, this album mainly ambles along without much ado. Which is fine if you are after some peaceful background nuances, but the music does not compel or command attention.
It's impressive that Wetherill has an ensemble of Hungarian musicians on board to add to the genuine flavour of it all. But there are other UK artists (for Wetherill is from Leeds) who shine in the arena of eastern European music, to no credit. Third Eye Foundation's Matt Elliot is a key troubadour maverick who is more powerful, imaginative, and kinetically adept at the genre and it is to him I would preferably flock.