Yes! What a delight â€“ for those of you who have missed a bit of Gomez in their lives, you will be glad to hear that the gorgeous gravelly voice of the brilliant Ben Ottewell is back, on this, his dÃ©but solo release ‘Shapes & Shadows’. And, guess what? It’s dead good.
This album truly is a lovely thing; and not just because of the superb and inimitable singing. The songs are a lovely blend of rumbling, gentle rock-influenced folk. The lyrics are thoughtful but not depressing. The guitar is gorgeous: rustic in feel, but elegantly played. The sound is summery without being over-exuberant. In short, this would be a cracker of an album as long as the singer could hold a tune, but throw in that voice, and this is a treat for anyone who can hear.
Getting specific, opener Shapes & Shadows is simply beautiful: heartfelt, genuine, and somehow a total sing-along classic at the same time. Lightbulbs and Blackbird both have a brilliant bluesy momentum. A true highlight for me is All Brand New, with it’s gorgeous phrasing (â€œlifts you like paper planes…â€), and then towards the end he gives his vocal chords an outing, and the goosebumps cover you from head to toe. Chicago is soft and sad and pretty. For some gorgeous rumbling rhythms, and lovely rasping vocals, there’s the fab Step Right Back and then the album finishes with the gentle swelling loveliness that is Take This Beach.
In case it wasn’t clear, this is a really well put together, beautifully finished example of musicianship. And bloody hell, can this fella sing. Please check out Shapes & Shadows, you won’t regret it.