Benjamin Shaw: There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet
Benjamin Shaw’s first album came out yesterday, on Audio Antihero Records. This is a very good thing as far as we’re concerned. We knew he had it in him after last year’s ‘I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got’, and this release makes good on the promise of that EP.
Shaw works between the most apparently natural sounds – guitar, piano, voice, stepping uncertainly from one moment to the next – and a reservoir of fuzzy found sound and dissonant grumbling; sometimes this wash of noise takes over, and sometimes it’s happy to slosh about in the background. This is a pretty irresistible combination for me – it draws you in, ear cocked to hear the next line, to follow the broken thread of a melody; and then it sends you reeling back out with a head full of stuff. The title track and ‘An Exciting Opportunity’ are wordless, pretty much. But on the other tracks Shaw’s lyrics turn to everyday dread, love (or what passes for it) and misanthropy, but in a delightfully odd way that avoids singer-songwriter clichés. On ‘The Birds Cheep and the Sun Shines’ he sings ‘I never meant to stare into the abyss. CELEBRATE, GOOD TIMES, COME ON!’, in the least ebullient tones imaginable. ‘HULK’, or to give it its alternative title, ‘The Ballad of Dr Banner’, is a lovely, tender song about anger.
While this might sound a bit glum, it’s an album with a glimmer of hope, as the title suggests. The slow trudge of the single ‘Somewhere Over the M6′ builds into something epic and shoegazey, for example. I said the EP was ‘scabrous'; this album seems a bit less unhealthy, like Shaw’s been getting out more. Though there’s still a line about drowning Tories, which you can hear on this track we offer for your listening pleasure:
‘How To Test the Depth of a Well’ – Benjamin Shaw – There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet
The album looks great, too, with Shaw’s own art gracing the booklet (I particularly like his Hulk). So go on, buy it. Head here for the physical or digital versions, or it’s on Amazon, iTunes etc. And if you’re near London the official launch will take place near London Bridge on Friday the 25th Nov; more details here but the main thing you need to know is that there are lots of other Audio Antihero artists on the bill and entrance is FREE!