Written by Daniel Boyer, posted by blog admin
The success of The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon will likely define, at least in part, Ben Brookes’ career until he bows out of the music scene. He has debuted with such astonishing variety and imagination that it makes one breathless to consider where he might go from here. His creativity on this collection makes it vividly clear that there’s a world of musical possibility at his feet and whatever direction he takes from here will likely bear ample fruit. The UK born Brookes has brought in a crew of UK music veterans of near musical royalty level – namely Joey Molland and Greg Healey from legendary pop rockers Badfinger. It is, perhaps, natural that Beatles and Badfinger influences come through strongly in the music and Healey’s production skills accentuate that quality when its present in Brookes’ work, but there are other influences coming through as well and they are accompanied by a highly individual quality that raises it all far above mere homage or imitation.
“I Wanna Go Home” serves notice of Brookes’ influences without ever getting lost in them. The ability to transmute the sounds that have influenced you as an artist into something truly your own isn’t as easy it might seem – the requisite talent is often beyond many young performers or else they lack seasoning. Whatever experience Brookes’ lacks is rendered moot by his talent level. He makes the coy vocal melody stick with you and never risks annoying the audience with its playfulness while the real longing at the heart of the song comes across quite effectively. “Asleep in Galilee” is another wonderfully effective number, one of the best on The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon, and the relaxed sweep carrying listeners through the song is made all the more appealing thanks to his vocal. A third high point comes with the track “Before Sunlight” and, once again, it’s melody that wins the day for Brookes. A closer listen to his lyrics, however, should reveal to any discerning listener that Brookes is an important songwriter who, each time out, makes meaningful statements with his considerable writing talents.
Two of the album’s grittier tracks, “Stories in the Rain” and “Somewhere Around Eight”, both rely on twining up distorted electric guitar runs with strong acoustic rhythm guitar underlying the entire song. Brookes gives us a different side of his vocal excellence with each of these songs and communicates vast oceans of feeling both times out. The album’s last song “Shackles” has a more poetic and moodier feel, but it ends the album on the right note and spares the audience any unnecessary histrionics. The quality of this release is such that it sounds like a much more experienced artistic hand is responsible for its excellence, but it’s clear we’re in the hands of prodigious talent with this one. Ben Brookes’ The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon is a worthwhile release in every meaningful respect.