|The Sound Review: I Remember|
By Wills Morgan
Wills Morgan reviews debut album release from Ben Moore-Morris: a collection of song lyrics with music written, performed and produced by Mr. Moore-Morris. Mixing and mastering by Toby Warren at Ignition Studios.
I Remember features Mr. Moore-Morris on a Korg keyboard, along with vocals by Karin Fransson. Bonus track is written and performed by Rebekah Walker. Album photography and design by Barbara Doux. Star Rating: ****
REVIEW words by Wills Morgan. Pictures are reproduced with permission of the artists and Ms. Doux.
During the last week of June I had the pleasure of welcoming Ben Moore-Morris into the loft that serves as my home. Ben was kind enough to give a copy of his first released product: in return for this kindness I thought it would be good to spend an hour or two listening and talking with him about what a sound review of his album would look like.
I like the idea that Ben had seen my recent review of Mary Plant’s debut smash and thought to himself: well now. I would quite like four stars for my own disc. Let’s see if I can get them. Doob-doob doobie-doo.
The answers to those thoughts have already been revealed. What follows next is a careful assessment of the album and a specific awarding of single stars in particular directions.
Let’s get straight to it then. First star must go to the photographer Barbara Doux for the remarkable shots which grace this release.
Miss Doux’s design concept can be described in three simple words: balanced, minimal and natural. I am reliably informed that Richomond Park is the location. Why didn’t Ben have some shots taken near his home in Queens Park? Traitor! I believe we do rather well with parks in our local area, thank you very much.
These photographs are a perfect place for a reasonably good-looking person to be presented. And as it happens, Ben is not too shabby in the looks department. There has been a bit of a miscalculation with the cover shot: our boy has been made to seem as if he is a copy of the Angel of the North sculpture. That’s not quite right: but it’s not enough to put me off my enjoyment of the album.
Here is an overview of what it sounds like. The first of ten tracks gets us off to a good start; tracks five to seven gives us a quarter of an hour of consistently interesting stuff: and the title track (also the last track) is in my opinion sensational.
Time to award the second star. This goes to the bonus track called ‘A Secret’ and specifically to Rebekah Walker who wrote the lyrics and sings them herself alongside Ben’s playing.
An important point needs to be made here. In spite of my awarding of stars to people other than Ben, it is important to remember that he is the one person responsible for the creative output on his album; it’s his keyboard that is at the heart of the ideas portrayed: and it is he that has carefully chosen the artist with whom he will share the limelight.
And now I am in the position of telling you how well Ben has done in his choices. The second star goes to a bonus track because it’s a good piece of work: Rebekah Walker is clearly someone whose songs and singing we are going to hear more of. I hope that the time we get to know a little more about Ms. Walker will be sooner…as opposed to later.
The Swedish-born, London based singer/songwriter known as Karin Fransson seems to be singing everywhere on everybody else’s recordings. Is there no end to her talents? Apparently not. And here is the big news…Ms. Fransson has some high notes. Wow! Yes!
Ben is the first person to persuade Karin out of her sweet-and-low sultry and soulful persona. The results can be heard to their full effect on the title track: it is (as I have already said) sensational, and that’s why it gets the third star.
Having done an overview and a critique of the artistes, let’s have a closer look at the ideas contained in this release.
This is a debut recording, and as is often the case with first releases, the debutant will choose subjects that he/she is comfortable sharing with a potential audience. Very often that means ‘writing what you know’ about.
In our discussion at my home, I put it to Ben that whilst his CD had a perfectly good title, “I Know” was a more accurate rendering of the contents than “ I Remember”. I believe Ben understands why I make this argument, without being wholeheartedly in agreement with it. He understands it’s just my opinion made on a single hearing: that I am the reviewer, and he is not.
However the evidence suggests that I’m right on this one. Ms Doux’s images and designs are matched by the natural balance of the music. There is a careful selection of tones from Ben’s keyboard. There are occasional flourishes of brilliance which show us that he really can play his instrument. Best of all is the deft use of music to create an impression of childhood on one of the tracks.
Much of this release is clearly personal. Dedications to friends and family are represented in liner notes and musical notes. Among those dedications is a special tribute to a person who is lovingly remembered and forever known. This is where my fourth and final STAR goes.
‘Stay in My Dream’ and ‘Here you are truly Safe’ is an silhouette in sound of the late Joanna Yeats. Jo lived a life that was perfectly natural, effortlessly balanced, and tragically minimal.
An album review is not the place for a re-hash of the circumstances of Jo’s untimely death: nor do I intend the editorial policy of this electronic magazine to be confused with the opinions of this writer as they are stated here.
But I feel I can do no other than to give the final star which is in my gift to a person who was, is, and ever remains a shining star. Joanna Yeats is more than a remembrance. She is a symbol of an undying, unfading love.
That’s it Ben. Four stars. None of them for you. But it’s still your work. And I do hope something of what I’ve said will persuade my readers to purchase something I believe to be truly worthwhile.
Ben Moore-Morris is one of the special guests playing for Songs in 88 Keys on 28th July @ the Earl of Portobello, West London. Headline act will be Dom Pipkin, fresh from playing for Paloma Faith in Leeds. Also on the bill is Mary Plant, Joy Renzi, Gerardo Sierchio... and piano versions of Karin Fransson’s Private Behaviour. Be there. I will. I’m the host.
Karin Fransson’s album ‘Private Behaviour’ is still available in all sorts of places. Check out what I wrote about her in THE ISLAND EXPERIMENTAL 9.
If you are interested in having Barbara Doux doing some photo stuff for you, here is her info: www.barbaradoux.com