BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Acoustic Classics (Louvaio Lou006)

Acoustic ClassicsFolking.com has already announced the imminent release of Acoustic Classics by Benjamin Folke Thomas – http://folking.com/benjamin-folke-thomas-returns-with-live-album/ – with the back story to the singer’s life and an explanation that this is a ‘live’ album with a difference: it has been recorded in Folke Thomas’ living room with himself as the ‘audience’.

I have a list on the Notes App on my phone of artists I want to see/music that I want to buy and Benjamin Folke Thomas has been on the list for a while now (a Bob Harris session a couple of years ago, I think) and the album doesn’t disappoint. The feel is very definitely a house concert, mixed with (his own) whoops, cheers, laughs, shushes and applause. There are songs from his previous albums, introductions from his life and two jokes which I think are magnificent, though my family are less convinced…….

The album starts slowly with ‘I’m Alive’ and ‘Good Friend Again’ and then begins to kick into a higher gear with ‘Love Somebody’ and ‘Finn’. It stays there until finishing with the singalong of ‘Sex Addict’. As I listened, it dawned on me that every good house concert I’ve been to does just that – the steady start as you’re sitting in a space not designed for a concert, growing to the point where it clicks into place for both artist and audience. Acoustic Classics captures it perfectly.

The songs are captivating, particularly the three in the centre of the album. ‘Finn’ moves seamlessly from the tale of Abbas, the doctor from Palestine working on a meat counter missing his family, on to Finn, the singer’s communist grandfather fighting the Nazis who became a refugee, and finally to the singer’s sister who is living, by choice, in India. Three tales of movement linked by a unfulfilled desire to be with family and the closing refrain “Time flies by so fast/spend it with the people you love”. ‘Married’ is an old story of not winning the girl because of her religion – “Sin couldn’t touch the ground she walked” – but becomes a modern one because of Folke Thomas’ ability to use Facebook to see what has happened to her. It is also a reflection of how she stills touches on his happiness. ‘Copenhagen 30/6’ is a similarly reflective tale of love with a melodic chorus and contrasting lyrics “Like a chain tied around the neck/through the meltdowns you’re a rock I’m a wreck…how can someone like you love somebody like me

The album artwork is an homage to Folke Thomas’ country heroes and the album also captures elements of country music while never quite going there. The vocal on ‘I’m Alive’ edges towards Johnny Cash; in ‘Sex Addict’ Folke Thomas inhabits the negative personality that the girl and – a wonderful touch – her father now use to describe him; despite its romantic title, ‘Woman I Love’ is another self-knowing leaving song “I’ve been labeled a criminal, labeled a crook/ By the Woman I Love”.

Two years down the line from making the note that I should find out more about Benjamin Folke Thomas I’ve been lucky enough to get this album to review. It’s probably not an album for the car, the finger picking is great and the lyrics are Loudon-Wainwright-subtle, but the road noise is louder. However, listen properly to the album, as you would in a house concert, and you’ll be rewarded with a great introduction to a skilled artist..

The website below has a link to gigs in summer and autumn, beginning with Cropredy on August 11th. My surprise is that he’s playing at the Brasenose Arms, not on the main stage.

Mike Wistow

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Acoustic Classics link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artist’s website: https://www.benfolkethomas.com

‘Sex Addict’ – live:

Benjamin Folke Thomas returns with live album

Benjamin Folke Thomas

Following the success of his 4th album Copenhagen earlier this year, Scandinavian born Benjamin Folke Thomas is back with a new album for his fans, a live album featuring all the hits from his extensive back catalogue.

“I wanted to make an honest record, something that reflects my solo live shows in a realistic way, so I decided to record a live album in my living room. I wanted to have the friendliest audience I could think of and my biggest fan is probably myself, no matter what others may think. So I was my own audience. I recorded each handclap, each chuckling laugh, and every excited call for more. It’s all me. Me me me…”

And, if you are wondering about the artwork…

“The idea was to rip of my favorite country heroes; Buck Owens, John Denver, Kenny Rogers and Jim Reeves. I think I’ve really pulled it off!” explains Ben.

Folke Thomas was born in the coldest winter recorded in modern day history in Gothenburg; perhaps his obsession for sad, lamenting country songs was inevitable; and grew up on a secluded island off the coast of Sweden, populated by mainly evangelical Christians. However, Ben never found God. He discovered grunge music instead, and at the age of 11 he was playing drums in a punk band before turning to folk and Americana music after seeing Kurt Cobain’s performance of ‘In The Pines’ on Unplugged.

Folke Thomas’ live ability has attracted a dedicated fanbase and rave reviews, including Q Magazine describing his “stunning playing… his finger-picking is the best you will ever hear”, whilst the Guardian stated that he “stands out like Oliver Reed at an AA meeting”.

Artist’s website:  www.benfolkethomas.com

‘Sex Addict’ – live:

BENJAMIN FOLKE THOMAS – Copenhagen (LOUVAIO L00005)

CopenhagenBenjamin 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.

Tony Birch

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Benjamin Folke Thomas link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artist’s website: https://www.benfolkethomas.com/

‘Copenhagen’ – official video:

Benjamin Folke Thomas announces new album

Benjamin Folke Thomas

Scandinavian-born singer Benjamin Folke Thomas is excited to announce the release of his impressive new album Copenhagen on March 3rd, 2017.

Folke Thomas was born in the coldest winter recorded in modern day history in Gothenburg, Sweden; perhaps his obsession for sad, lamenting country songs was inevitable; and grew up on a secluded island off the coast, populated by mainly evangelical Christians. However, Ben never found God. He discovered grunge music instead, and at the age of 11 he was playing drums in a punk band before turning to folk and Americana music after seeing Kurt Cobain’s performance of ‘In The Pines’ on Unplugged. Steeping himself in Leadbelly, Dylan, and Leonard Cohen, by the age of 20 he was an accomplished finger-picker, confident performer, and mature songwriter.

Copenhagen is Ben’s best work to date; an album full of roots and rhythmic blues, alongside the most beautiful descriptive storytelling, sung with his trademark baritone vocals and packed with anthemic choruses.

After living and playing in London for some years, where he proved to be one of the most exciting prospects to come out of the acoustic scene in years, he released his first studio album Too Close To Here in 2013. It was mainly recorded with Swedish musicians in the Rosa Huset (‘The Pink House’) outside Gothenburg. Follow up Rogue State of Mind, released in 2015, was recorded with his same Swedish band in their studio in an old warehouse, and focused in on the bands live nature with minimal rehearsal.

Folke Thomas’ live ability has attracted a dedicated fanbase and rave reviews, including Q Magazine describing his “stunning playing… his finger-picking is the best you will ever hear”, whilst the Guardian stated that he “stands out like Oliver Reed at an AA meeting”.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Benjamin Folke Thomas link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

DOWNLOAD – [CD]

Artist’s website: www.benfolkethomas.com

‘One More Ride’ live at Cropredy Festival: