Album: Ben Christophers

Spoonface, V2
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The Independent Culture

Ben Christophers may be the best thing to come out of Wolverhampton since Slade – but that's as far as any comparison goes, Christophers being a folkie troubadour in the lineage of Nick Drake and Tim Buckley. He possesses a poetic turn of phrase, throwing out striking images like "shipwreckers' eyes", "a cutting stingray smile", "Spoonface Jesus spitting rhythm", and – my favourite – "A veil was thrown over the graves/ And sunlight twists herself into the kite strings". His songs deal mostly with emotional transformation, and the need to confront one's pain before moving on, perhaps best summarised in "Leaving My Sorrow Behind", where he muses upon the old question at the heart of the blues: "Lord, why does my sorrow make me feel so good?" There's a still, Chet Baker-shaped space at the heart of Christophers' vocals, which have a piercing purity that demands a subtle musical vocabulary; fortunately, co-producer David Kosten proves a congruent collaborator, weaving the singer's pastel threads of melody into vivid tapestries of sound, marked by a sophisticated sense of musical space, in the manner of Talk Talk's Mark Hollis. Spindly guitar arpeggios tread softly over murky synth chords; toy piano lines ride Beck-ish loungecore loops; and layers of backing vocals stack in staggered madrigal formation, while Christophers keeps his eye fixed on his emotional horizon, hoping for epiphany: "Bring on new soul/ Can't escape it". Lovely stuff.