Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm (Dirty Hit)

July 21, 2011 by  

It?s a tough old life sometimes, seeing others do something you can do equally well (if not better) but being called up on it when everyone else gets away scot-free. That?s kind of what has happened here with Benjamin Francis Leftwich, who is a captivating young performer, still only 21 years old.

Active since 2006, he began playing music at the age of 10 and started playing to crowds 6 years later. He released his first EP ?A Million Miles Out? last October and the ripple effect from his first release proper resulted in a wave of chatter, and inevitabely a weight of expectation from indiephiles and fellow songwriters alike.

Whatever you may think upon hearing these songs, it’s important to remember that they are without doubt all well-concieved, well-constructed and well-executed both in style and in recording. The obvious talent that young Mr. Leftwich has is exuded throughout these often stirring stories is there for all to hear, so much so in fact that it becomes both the top and bottom line in his approach to music. At worst, he?s at risk of being labelled a one trick pony. This criticism may be a little harsh but isn?t without good cause as it gets a little irksome a few songs in, when neither the pace nor the mood changes. The desire to like and love these songs is immense and finding these little niggles is pretty disheartening.

The main feeling of dissatisfaction here is that we know there is a little more to his game. Let?s not beat around the bush; he?s an acoustic solo songwriter and there?s only so much he?s going to want to put down on tape before he starts to relinquish his sound. But this is still the guy that caused a stir with his bootleg cover of Arcade Fire?s ?Rebellion? and the very same BFL that created such a buzz with his first two EPs and the progression from then up until now is a little stunted.

However, whilst trying to remain positive, not wanting to be too sour and judging exactly what we have in front of us; ?Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm? is still an album full of weight and beauty in places. ?Box of Stones? is a delicately picked song, with a echoed beat and lush stringed accompaniment and tracks like ?Butterfly Culture? and ?Stole You Away? are just two of a handful of songs that stand up well in their respective environment.

These songs are good reasons to go out and get this album and you will enjoy it. I don?t think it?s going to stand out as one of those debuts that reaches the same adored heights as that of Fleet Foxes or even rub shoulders with the likes of Fionn Regan or Laura Marling. However, Benjamin Leftwich is a likeable character with a buoyant attitude and I?m sure that the current music scene would still be a poorer place without this release.