The driving beat of an acoustic guitar; a howling harmonica and a whiskey-wrecked voice introduce Ben Rogers’ self-produced debut album. Ben is from Vancouver but his sound and his songs come from mythical America and if misanthropy is your bag you’re going to love his Lost Stories, however many volumes he produces.
The opening song is a killer. ‘The Dealer’ is the story of a poor country boy who makes it selling drugs on the city streets. It’s dark and bitter. The singer knows that what he does is essentially wrong but is equally aware that he can’t change what he is – perhaps he’s as trapped as his “clients”. ‘Once A Wife, Twice A Widow’ begins with a unique take on the raising of Lazarus and ends with the musician’s plans for success – see if you can work it out before the end. ‘The Cheatin’ Kind’ and ‘500 Mile Blues (The Devil’s Crop)’ are scenes from old movies and there are songs of the Depression and war while ‘Lay It Down’ is distilled Leonard Cohen.
Apart from some backing vocals on ‘Kingdom Come’, the one song with any hint of optimism, Ben does everything himself but keeps it simple: mandolin, banjo and keyboards add extra textures – you can’t say colour, there are only shades of grey. And black.
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