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Album Review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm

Photo by Pip (http://www.photographybypip.co.uk/)

Making a name for himself through appearances at a handful of festivals this summer, the ‘next-big-thing’ sirens ring loudly when Benjamin Francis Leftwich is mentioned. The singer songwriter has been bubbling under for a few months, garnering interest through the release of his ‘Pictures’ and ‘A Million Miles Out’ EPs and finally releases his album ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’ today.

The album is a simple affair with it’s foundations set firmly in the acoustic talents of Leftwich. His vocals gloss over the tracks and despite their beauty, manage to sound effortless, particularly on the title track, ‘Shine’ and the recent single ‘Box Of Stones’ when he is accompanied by female vocalist Haley Hutchinson. Similiarly, the addition of a few strings to the tracks works wonders, aiding the sentiments conveyed through Leftwich’s vocals.

The debut begins marvellously, making it’s way through the singles ‘Pictures’, ‘Atlas Hands’ and the aforementioned ‘Box Of Stones’ which is easily a standout due to it’s stunning chorus – a beautiful duet between Hutchinson and Leftwich. Whilst the album might not be described as up-tempo, it certainly has a few tracks that tempt you to tap your foot – namely ‘1904’ and the aptly titled ‘Shine’.

On a considerably negative note, the song structures (which are esentially almost identical on every track) could potentially grate on your nerves towards the second half of the album if listening intently. It also feels that the album quality slightly trails off in one of two of the later tracks. With exception to the final song, the stunning ‘Don’t Go Slow’, it feels that ‘Snowship’ in particular, despite it’s great lyrics, fails to reach the magnificent highs of the glorious ‘Stole You Away’ and the first few tracks.

With the heartfelt lyrics and delivery elevating the songs, particularly ‘Pictures’ and ‘Butterfly Culture’, it genuinely feels that the album harnesses something special. A selection of well-written tracks that are beautifully executed hints that Benjamin Francis Leftwich is about to dominate the music scene with this work and it’s easy to see why from this, a very likeable and instant debut album.

Photo: Pip
Words: Simon McMurdo

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