BEN REEL – 7th (B.Reel Records BRBCDA-015)

7thBen Reel plays folk music in pretty much the same way Led Zeppelin did – the roots are there, buried deep, but sometimes they emerge blinking into the light, if that doesn’t mix too many metaphors. Ben is a singer-songwriter from South Armagh with a mighty band behind him and an equally mighty guest list.

The opening track, ‘Lucky Streak’, reminds me of Andy White in his younger, rockier days but Ben is further into the blues and rock. The key sound on this album is organ courtesy of John McCullough and with overdubbed piano and backing vocals by his wife Julieanne Black Reel the sound is sometimes reminiscent of Dylan and The Band. Ben moves easily between the optimistic groove of ‘One Of These Days’, with the harmonica blowing and the band rolling along, and the pain of ‘Crushed It’, one of the record’s best songs.

The pace lets up a little with the ballad, ‘God’s World’, and ‘Reflection Of The Blues’ which hovers just on the edge of being a country yodel – another fine song – and the Dylanesque ‘Many A Time’ name-checks Tom Waits which puts Ben right in my good books. Then it’s back to the boogie.

Like I say, the folk music is pretty deep but it’s worth searching for.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘All Souls Alive’ – one of two bonus tracks on 7th: