If you like your alt-folk to brim with searching questions and poignancy then this record will become an essential listen
Benedict Benjamin is the new solo project by Benedict Rubinstein, formerly of the bands The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue. Night Songs was recorded in churches, kitchens and bedrooms as Rubinstein attempted to come to terms with the end of his youth and what it means to be an adult. Whether confessing at the pulpit, sink or bedside table, each location provides a fitting setting for his existential angst.
There is a direct feel about the album. Rubinstein is addressing his own fears and failings head on, no matter how uncomfortable. Over a shuffling beat on Thin Skin he sings “There is who I’d like to be and who I am”. My Feet Have No Need For The Ground may sound more upbeat but the doubts remain as he coos “I thought that I was strong, turns out I was just young”.
On I Wish Your Lies Were Better and Coward, haunting melodies continue to combine with the brutal honesty of the lyrics and deliver a relentless emotional hammer blow. Somehow though, it’s strangely comforting to spend time with Rubinstein’s pathos and share in his emotional exorcism. “I’m not cut out for failure, I can’t get used to the way that it feels” he admits on Had What You Had.
Both the alt-folk style and subject matter evoke memories of the Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues and there are also hints of Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers hiding within Rubinstein’s croon. These elements all combine to make Night Songs a fragile and compelling listen and an album that will mean a great deal to those who share its creators uncertainties.
Verdict: An emotional outpouring to be savoured