Bardic Records experienced major successes supporting independent singer-songwriters across the pond, and now have entered our shores to hopefully do the same for those deserving to get out there and have their talent heard. Embarking upon the opening of their UK office (Summer, 2004.) Bardic brings with them fresh ideas, and a high hope to benefit UK singer songwriters everywhere, and focus on the artists, music, and pushes those interested in image and capitalisation out of the music industry window. To make themselves known, Bardic brings with them US artist Ben Arthur, and are supporting his release of his debut Bardic album "Edible Darling" this side of the pond. Following two previous albums released on his own label Chicken Butter, Ben Arthur has entrusted Bardic to do what they say, and to promote his music, not his image, and has thrown in the towel, allowing them to take the business side of things, so he can focus on his music.
That is not to say that Ben Arthur has not kept things his way, as he chose to employ the help of engineer Mike Shipley (Aerosmith, Def Leppard) and brings with him his own life experience, portraying his story in his lyrics and music.
"Edible Darling" is an emotional roller coaster of songs, often bleak, dark, broody and reflective, it should be appealing to lovers of emotional heartfelt song-writing everywhere as Ben toils with personal experiences, love, ever changing moods and positive hope. Opener "Mary Anne" starts the ball rolling with positive hope, an upbeat song toiling with a potential love interest, who will not share feelings and make the decision, but the fingers are kept crossed:
"Mary Anne make up your mind, Mary Anne make up your mind,
Mary Anne don't waste no more time."
In contrast, "Tonight" is one of the heartfelt offerings, one to curl up on a night in and listen to, but don't let the ballad like exterior fool you, this is not your average power ballad, which is only fit for playing following a broken heart, indeed "Tonight" digs deeper, and tells of a shamed lover wishing to stay over:
" If I pull the curtains, and dim the lights. If I turn the TV down, oh do I have to go tonight.
"End Of The Day" is a minimalist and raw song, which builds up loudly, culminating in a powerful song musically and lyrically, if this song doesn't move the listener, they can be sure that come earthquake or end of the world, they will be safe.
"At the end of the day, I call you again, don't know what I want to say, you never answer anyway,
And If I still, cant breathe at night, and If I still stumble through the days"
Ben shows that heartfelt rock is not his only string to his bow, as both title track "Edible Darling" and "Bloomed" add a tinge of blues into the chemistry, both heart on sleeve in their own ways: "Edible Darling" being an rather funky blues/jazz offering, whilst "Bloomed" is a mellowed out track, which draws on hints of folk/blues, showing the diversity of Ben Arthur, and his interest in experimental styles, a fresh change to a one genre album.
The singer-songwriter genre is a crowded one at present, so the question of where the genre could squeeze another artist in, and how a new member can stand out above the rest is a thing to ponder. Ben Arthur certainly has an interesting hand of cards to deal, whilst the others round the table are dealing the same over again. Bens unique ideas and extrovert use of styles and poetic wordplay lyrics are likely to allow him to tower over the rest, and follow in the footsteps of Jesse Malin and Ryan Adams. Fans of the genre, these artists and of good music in general cannot afford to give this one a miss.
Words: Katherine Tomlinson