BEN GLOVER – And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky (Goldrush Records)

And The Sun Breaks Through The SkyGlover is neither the first nor the last Irish troubadour to find the comfy shoes of a downhome Americana fit him very well. Very well indeed, in fact. It seems a while since his last solo release, 2018’s Shorebound, but this now Nashville native has always preferred the slow simmer to a fast boil, the world events of 2020 and onward now offering him that greater freedom, choosing that over the production line of a recording contract. Not that he has been idle, collaborations always integral to his MO, with his songs and co-writes rarely that far away from releases by fellow travellers. Underlining that point, writing credits here, apart from his and his alone, include songs he has written with Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey and Gretchen Peters. Not bad for the boy from Antrim.

The theme of this album, for it has one, is around finding one’s way back home, where home is way more than mere geography: “It embodies our true nature, who we are at our core” In this way, Glover remains true to both the muse of his homeland and the application of his adopted. With his warm and slightly wobbly voice an amalgam of Mike Scott and David Gray, the first track, ‘Make My Way Home’, embraces that sentiment entirely. Piano and strummed guitars frame the song, some peals of chorus pedal electric from Johnny Duke, as some lustrous organ adds a backdrop. Up and coming country/folk songstrel Jaimee Harris adds backing vocals.

The title track starts with some chiming stabs of mixed instrumentation, before the organ takes a southbound direction, Mississippi deltawards. Frequent collaborator Neilson Hubbard takes part the writing responsibility, and drums, for this overtly barbed song, barbs directed toward his homeland: “Good luck to you whatever it is you’re fighting for, on that angry Antrim shore”. It hits a hypnotic groove and no small lyrical punch. Lovely slide from Duke, too. ‘There’s A River’ is a lighter piece, a sparkly jangle with Harris again adding some background lustre. That mix of guitars and organ is a classic combination, with pedal steel, from Colm McClean, then gilding the lily.

The first Gauthier co-write up is ‘The Meadow’, and, unprompted, you might well guess that, so much does Glover’s delivery channel the style of the singer herself, if in a (very) slightly lower key. It is a lovely low-key gem, one to which you’ll return. Next up in the queue of artists Glover gets to work with. is Nashville songsmith for hire, Kent Agee, and their ‘Lifetimes Apart’ carries a whiff, in melody and style of both Springsteen and Rodney Crowell. The vocal delivery a mix of the latter and, again, the breathy enthusiasm of Mike Scott. It works well. Some unexpected flugelhorn then lifts a whole new lid. Rather than detract from Glover’s own core style, these co-writes add a pleasing spread of additional outside influences.

‘One Fine Day’ enters on a mandolin strum, with a build into a massed angelic chorale of voices, namely Kim Richey, who is the co-author, a returning Harris and Maddie Alldredge, she the wife of co-producer (and bass player), Dylan Alldredge. The result is somewhat hymnal. That feel is then extemporised by the chapel organ that opens ‘Arguing With Ghosts’, a musing on getting lost in your home town, as time turns it upside down. A haunting song, Richey’s second vocal is an outstanding foil to Glover’s own. It may be the standout track, with handclap drums and steel hammering out the sense of disalignment. Wherever there’s Richey, there is often Gretchen Peters and Matraca Berg not far behind, the trio having so frequently worked with and alongside each other, so it should be no surprise that Peters and Berg get a credit for this song.

‘Break For You’ brings in, or is it back, some further country acousticana flavours. The second Richey collab, it features the ganjo, a mutant guitar/banjo, played by  Josh Kimborough, that sounds just as that description should. Some stand up bass and pipe organ fill the song with a grieving sense of longing: “I’d let my heart break for you”. And if that carried much gaunt ennui, go catch the final track, with Glover never before sounding quite so fragile, for the second Gauthier contribution, ‘Till I See You Again’. With just piano and muted background vibraphone, it contains an essence of Dylan’s Forever Young in mood and melody. Lovely.

And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky is a great record; it may take a song or two to get in and under your skin, but, when it does, the reward is to witness just how well Glover has conjured so much from a willingness to spark off other writers, and they from him. Sure, with an address book like his, any risk of failure is set low, but the result still exceeds any sum of its parts.

Seuras Og

Artist’s website:

‘Arguing With Ghosts’ – official video:

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