Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers - In The Time Of Great Remembering
From the cold lands of Nova Scotia comes Ben Caplan and the Casual smokers, dressed like a physics teacher and sporting one of, if not the most impressive beards I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. I say seeing because by the luck of the gods, a week after receiving this CD for review I found out that Ben was the opening act for a gig I was asked to review. So with the prospect of getting to know Ben's music I grabbed some good headphones, kicked back into a tall, soft chair and began to listen. That first play was two weeks ago, yet here I am still listening.
I believe that out there in the big bad world is a voice for each one of you, a pitch and tone that resonates with your entire being and that will send shivers down your spine. If your lucky it'll happen more than once and with many different artists but I'd like to make a suggestion that if you haven't been fortunate enough to have this feeling yet then maybe Ben can help. The last time I heard a voice like this was the soothing vocal style of Crash Test Dummies front man Brad Roberts, but whilst some characteristics are the same there are just as many that strikes Ben in his own league. For starters he is smoother, he can be powerful and he can be soft and is ultimately much more refined. He is to folk music what the trumpet is to jazz, something for everything else to fall behind.
It will not surprise you to hear that Ben has left an impression on me with this album. It took two songs and 16 seconds of the album for me to feel this way and it's the 16 seconds of the track Seeds Of Love that turned my head. An exquisitely written verse sung with belief, of hope during times of sadness that sold me for the rest of the album. Indeed the rest of the release is fantastic in its own right, it covers many different styles; Beautiful is a happy-go-lucky love song with an upbeat tempo, Drift Apart brings the heartbreak in the form of a tortured ballad and Stranger brings Russia-esque folk.
Something this album will not tell you but I'd never forgive myself for not mentioning is the power this man holds on stage. His own website compares him to Freddy Mercury, but I'm not sure that's right. What I can say from first hand experience is that he knows how to lead a crowd, how to take a sceptical audience who may never have heard of him before and get them all singing. That is a highly rated skill and one not many singers have. This album is brimming with talent and worth a play through regardless of the music you usually listen to.