Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Benjamin Shaw - There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet

Audio Antihero Records, November ‘11

In much the same ways as a wise old man might sit down by a fire and impart his wisdom, Benjamin Shaw uses ‘There’s Always Hope…’ to tell tales of everyday trials and tribulations with flair and a humorous sense of gravity. ‘Interview’ details the inevitability of stressing out about a job interview, knowing that even if you got the job it’d only make you more miserable. His self-deprecating humour is one of the reasons this never even begins to sound like the work of ‘just another bloke’ with an acoustic guitar, no mean feat when you’re a bloke with an acoustic guitar making music. He may be keen on chaotic clamour, but you’d be a fool to let Shaw’s talent for melodies pass you by. These melodies sink their claws into you, refusing to let go as they ride the ebb and swell of the surrounding fuzzy mess. That’s not to say that we’ve not been shown this talent before, the opening track on his EP ‘I Got the Pox, the Pox Is What I Got’ gives us over a minute of beeping and unintelligible voices, before the gentle guitar strumming begins and his characteristically heart-wrenching, yet simple, lines are mumbled out. It could be suggested that Shaw is trying to disguise an ability to make very listenable and pleasant music, behind a barrier of noise and dissonance. But that would be unfair and inaccurate at best. The droning and creaking that begins ‘HULK’, the closing track of ‘There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet’, only adds to its absolute, aching beauty. This track pulls at you, it’s addictive and there’s a bizarre sense of joy permeating through the pain. And as Shaw declares in his dejected but strangely powerful voice that “I can’t control…what it does to me”, you’ll begin to wish that not only is there hope and cabernet, there’s also more to come from this (self-confessed) ‘singer-songwanker’.
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