| myspace . Benjamin Shaw |
I would usually call this end-of-the-bed music as it sounds like the singer doesn't want to wake the neighbours or let his flatmates know what he/she is singing about. But this three tracker from Benjamin Shaw had a few more surprises tucked away than I first thought.
Generally these bedsit bards fly the 'woe is me' flag and after reading Benjamin's bio that came with the cd, he seems to relish it. Take these examples: "After a period of particular awfulness, and a short descent into madness... Ben has recently been seen playing all the main dives you've never heard of..." and here's the best one: "...with all the agility you would expect from a gangly, pale washing line of a man, Benjamin Shaw is coming at you like a wet duffle-coat."
What a great description! A wet duffle coat. But come on, Mr Shaw, don't be too hard on yourself - you're not that wet. In fact, the three songs here tell otherwise. I can't see the comparison to Elliot Smith and Nick Drake as mentioned in his bio. Haven't heard much Elliot Smith but to my ears you're as good as Bill Smog and that Palace Brothers guy.
'Twisting turning killing learning' has the hushed tones you would be expecting but then he breaks out - in a loud voice! - and sings something about listening to a Dr Hook record. How cool is that? This song has a lovely and memorable melody and haunting piano and brushed drums.
'When I fell over in the city' starts out with hi-tech looped hi-hats panning from left to right before going all boxy old tambourine on us and then singing in an English accent about vit-a-mins (pronouncing the vit like hit). What's going on here? Now I listened to this before I read Ben's story, not knowing that he is actually an Englishman from Blackpool ("a town built on disappointment and despair") who moved to Melbourne for a short time and is now back in Blighty, based in London. Okay back to the song. So English is his real accent? With a bit of added Ray Davies syrup. It's a great song too, as he woos his lover with "there's a fine line between talented and me".
The final song 'Chocolate Girl' features a wonderful one-man choir that mixes in what sounds like a harmonica or accordion or pump-organ. Who cares? It sounds great.
I would definitely love to hear more from this self-proclaimed wet duffle coat (love it!) Benjamin Shaw. -ND