Album review: BEN REEL – Darkness & The Light

BEN REEL - Darkness & The Light

Release date 22.04.13

You never quite know what to expect from Ben Reel.  Over his previous 5 studio albums he’s touched on rock, soul, blues, alt-folk, Americana and even indulged in a little reggae.

His new album, his first recorded and produced in his own home studio in Co. Armagh continues to keep fans on their toes – the opening title track is a monster with a wonderfully soulful funky indie groove.

But sadly the album doesn’t stick with that killer theme.  ‘River Of Time’ sounds like Dire Straits meets Chris de Burgh (which is better than you might think), ‘Watershed’ brings the Big O to mind, while ‘Heart Just Won’t Fail’ is heavily reminiscent of the Mersey’s ‘Sorrow’ (covered by Bowie on ‘Pin Ups’).

‘Before Your Time’ echoes The Boss (with a hint of Dylan) in storytelling gospel mode, ‘Counting Down The Days’ continues in the same theme but takes a more Van The Man bluesy perspective and is another highlight, while ‘You’re Not Alone’ returns to the Big O theme.

‘Flickering Light’ has soulful groove with some lovely slide guitar work, ‘What Is Done’  is another bluesy number, while’ Could Have Done’ is The Eagles crossed with Springsteen tripping down the West Coast.  The closer, ‘Our Father’s Sins’ is simply anthemic.

Recorded digitally, but with an analog warmth, ‘Darkness & Light’ might, on face value, seem a little derivative.  But the truth is, it immediately has the comfort of an old jumper, and on each subsequent listen begins to sound more and more like the best knitwear in town.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley


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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

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