Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Be de la Cour "Ghost Light" album review

Ben de la Cour is a traveling minstrel of sorts. A man who has been around and seen a lot. Traveled the country with a guitar on his back like the greats that came before him. He just recently released a new record called "Ghost Light"...and its pretty ghostly in its sonic qualities (which is an excellent thing!). The album was recording in New Orleans, which shines through if you look just right.

The record kicks off with the dusty road kicker "I Went Down to Dido". With subtle hints of Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt and Leonard Cohen, it would be hard for a folk/roots fan to be disappointed with this track and the record as whole. I feel like I am getting pulled along for the ride as Ben sings out "and the road goes on forever / past factories, farms and fields", driving along vacant buildings and lots on the side of some dirt road.

I feel a bit wrapped up tight in a blanket of torment, sin and regret as "Howlin' in the Dark" kicks in. But I can take comfort in that feeling of regret because he presents it with such charm and poise. A great story song with a waltzy dance feel to it. The ambiance of this song bleeds out of the speakers and engulfs the room.

"Memorial Day" is a nice change of pace. A more uptempo acoustic rocker with some real nice dymanics and lines that are a sure fan favorite. Some country tremolo guitar, a strong back beat, and de la Cours always on point lyric work. He is very to the point and blatant, there is no sugar coating, he sings what he feels and I love about his music.

and I tried to give up drinking / but nobody understood
how hard it is just to make shit work / when you know that you're no good

It has a bit of a haunting feel to the music, without being over dramatic about it. The music really speaks for itself in that respect, no over use of reverb or atmospheric effects to successfully pull it off. And that's a good thing. De la Cour gently proclaims the tales of a road weary heart and charismatic traveler that has been around. I just love the way this guy annunciates certain phrases (listen to "Down in Babylon" for more examples). Soft but harsh, brooding but purposeful, and fragile but strong all in the same breath. A true troubadour for the modern age.

The only complaint I could possibly come up with is that 10 songs may have been sufficient and the 12 felt like just a bit much after the first listen through. The general tone of the record is fairly static, which, don't get me wrong, absolutely works here. Ben's voice complements the music perfectly and the feel of it the entire record flows great. I just find sometimes I get lost after that 11th track (from a review standpoint at least) and sometimes honing the focus to a limited number works rather than cranking out 12-14 tunes for an album. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this listen and think you will too.

Check out Ben online at:

And his bandcamp page here:

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