When Ben Christophers first emerged with his major-label debut, My Beautiful
1999, he received not entirely helpful comparisons with Jeff Buckley. True, this
British singer shares a crystalline voice and an ability to switch between an
earthbound croon and skyscraping yearning, but he possesses a less self-consciously
dramatic style, and leans more towards songs that privilege
sound over structure.
is released on Christophers' own Rocketeer label and is only
available via the artist's Web site (www.benchristophers.com
). In this context, it's a loose-sounding collection, interspersed with fluttering electronic instrumentals that serve as bridging interludes between songs. Sparingly adorned with guitar and muted electronica, and often led by Christophers' double-tracked voice harmonizing with itself, these are songs of wistfulness and portentous observation, lyrically stark but with an insistence that becomes more marked with successive plays.
From the softly played romanticism of "Burning Sun" to the wheezing waltz-melody of "Drifting Stone" and the sparsely delivered folk rumination of "Darkness of Days," this album displays drama and versatility, but keeps its edges blurred and indistinct with sketchy instrumentation and murky, tonal edits. It is this indistinct quality that particularly marks this out from more mainstream singer/songwriter fare, though Christophers never really disguises (or seeks to disguise) his overt melodicism and musical accessibility.
By releasing this as a homegrown product, Christophers is able to retain his sense of purity, but also of playfulness and exploration, and he occasionally touches on a kind of sublime mystery that transcends the prosaic lyricism of the songs themselves.