Benjamin Folke Thomas was born on a small island off the coast of Sweden, mainly populated by evangelical Christians, but his third album takes it’s title from across the Øresund; Copenhagen.
Combining his upbringing with musical influences ranging from Leadbelly to Cohen and Jackson Browne means his work tends, perhaps not surprisingly, to be introspective and personal. His style and voice are similar to Martyn Joseph and, like Joseph, he is a supreme storyteller. His stories encompass large issues but at the individual, human level so this is not necessarily an album to be put on in the car whilst driving. To get the most from it you need take the time to sit down and listen to every word and you will be well rewarded for your effort.
The title track, ‘Copenhagen 30/6’, is a good example of his work as a storyteller. There are seven verses and no chorus, which is fairly typical. It’s a song about needing somebody in order for life to make sense and have purpose and yet not until the very end of song are we given any hope there might be a happy ending. There may also be an element of autobiography in it
“I missed you tonight when I was up on stage,
I couldn’t find my focus I was unable to engage,
The sound was bad not enough tickets sold,
I wish I was with you tonight.”
‘Finn’ is another story set to music, rather than a song, and it is a terrific story about the passing of time; how things change but how they also stay the same. It chiefly concerns two men who have come into Benjamin’s life and the song is so convincing I believe they are real people. We are first introduced to Abbas, a Palestinian and doctor but trying to make ends meet working in a supermarket having left his wife and children behind. Next we are introduced to Benjamin’s grandfather, the Finn of the title, who also ended up as a refugee from the Nazis and lost his brother to them. Two men separated by time and yet neither are able to live the life they wanted because of forces they cannot control which separate them from loved ones.
If there is a theme to this album it is that search for love and stability yet worrying that finding what you want may not be the answer. As he sings in ‘Safe and Secure’
“They say that love is liberating
But I don’t understand
How can anyone in love ever feel
Safe and secure”
Musically the influence is Blues with a bit of Rock but the strength is the words. In a different persona Benjamin could be described as a poet, rather than singer, and he would be equally good. Copenhagen is an incredibly good album of contemporary music from a performer who has a lot to give and is not afraid to give all. It is highly recommended.
The album was released on the 3rd March and is available through the artist’s website as well as the usual platforms.
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‘Copenhagen’ – official video: