BENJAMIN SHAW is a Northern lad. From Blackpool in fact, and that by definition means he has been genetically wired with a dry and sometimes self-deprecating sense of humour. He will also, by definition, ‘tell it how it is’ and will doubtless call a spade a feckin’ shovel!
Following a period of ‘particular awfulness’ (his words) he married and buggered off to Australia for a while, from where you would not unnaturally think that he’d return with (at the very least) the quality of self assuredness and confidence to add to his ‘Northern’ attributes. Possibly a slightly dangerous combination, some might say.
But no – judging by the six tracks on BENJAMIN’S ‘I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got’ EP, the ‘Northern’ traits still hold sway over those of the southern hemisphere.
It would perhaps too easy to dismiss these songs as ‘miserablist’ but they’re certainly not ones to have dancing around your bedroom like a loon. They do have a certain charm and a propensity to draw out the listener’s sympathy for BENJAMIN as he delivers his lyrics in a rather plaintive manner.
The lyrics themselves are a strange mix of that dry humour, bitterness and pathos – sometimes all within the same song, like ‘The Carpeteer’ – and in the main are accompanied simply by BENJAMIN’S acoustic guitar. Musically, the mood is distinctly downbeat, with the exception of ‘When I Fell Over In The City,’ which has a nice, quick delivery and lovely harmonies wrapped around the chorus of ‘There’s a fine line between talent and me.’
‘2,000 Sentinels’ is again of the ‘slow’ nature, but like on another couple of occasions, BENJAMIN employs some electronic gadgetry in the introduction and this time the base is centred on a harpsichord sounding piano line. The chorus, or at least the end line or so, sounds similar to The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me,’ though that probably doesn’t mean much to anyone else!
Actually, although I don’t generally ‘do’ downbeat styled music, this track is really pleasant and interesting…. One that I’d certainly play again / add to my I-Tunes playlist.
However if I’m honest, even though there are many people who are going to love this brand of music – and I’ve seen many reviews that concur with that point – I found it all a bit too much of an adventure into endurance. But you’ve got to hand it to the lad, his rather perverse sense of humour shines through all the evident pain.
BENJAMIN SHAW – ‘coming at you like a wet duffel-coat.’ (His words!)
(Released through Audio Antihero and out now – September 2010)