Last week I was checking out some new music, and one artist’s name caught my eye. It was the most British-sounding thing I had encountered in a while, and it immediately piqued my curiosity. I did some research and noticed that people had been comparing his music to that of Ben Howard, another British singer-songwriter I am currently obsessing over. I was intrigued by this comparison, and although I wasn’t terribly excited about the grey album cover, I gave Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s In The Open EP a listen.
Leftwich’s music is very simple. Simple strumming patterns, simple arrangements, with the artist’s soft voice hovering gracefully over the music. A trifle reminiscent of the simplicity that backed the lauded For Emma, Forever Ago, Leftwich’s music fits perfectly around you like an old winter coat, protecting you from the cold. It may not be a flashy thing, but that coat is as warm and familiar as a hug.
I have to admit, I wasn’t terribly impressed at first. I knew I liked the four-song EP, though I couldn’t say much more about it than that. Leftwich’s lyrics are good, his songs are good, but there was nothing that particularly struck me. I honestly did not know how to approach this review until something amazing happened. A day or so after listening, I began to sing “Is That You On That Plane” to myself, having only heard it once or twice. It’s not even a particularly catchy song, but that was irrelevant. His music had gotten inside me.
After that, listening to Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s EP took on a slightly different nature. This album, personal and intimate, suddenly belonged to me. It became my winter album. The title track, which also functions as the opener, is a delicate little song that gently rolls along with sparse strings providing a back and forth with the vocals. The first lyric of the album — “We stayed up waiting for the morning, beneath the full moon on the snow…” — sets the winter backdrop for the rest of the EP perfectly. “Break the Day Open” continues this theme (“Everywhere we go, from the summer to the snow, we will pave the way and break the day open”), and the thematic cohesion of Track 3, “Manchester Snow,” is fairly obvious.
The final track, “Is That You On That Plane,” is a dreamy, haunting song. With rolling electric guitar arpeggios, it breathes in and out softly. Themes of loneliness and longing are beautifully written in both the words and music, matching perfectly the grey cover art. With tones of jet engines and lush harmonies in the background, Leftwich has created a world for his music to live in, and I was happy to join him there. Like I said before, this song stuck with me for days.
As winter is approaching, finding that perfect album to use to fend off the cold is paramount. I hereby suggest Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s In The Open EP. As I have already faced Los Angeles’ December fog with his music by my side, I can attest to its seasonal perfection.
To see Benjamin Francis Leftwich live, head over to The Bootleg Bar on February 2, 2013. The In The Open EP is available now for download on iTunes, Amazon, or from Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s website.
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