Recorded at Shrunken Heads Studios, Jon Alexander’s Studio, Ben McClean’s house, Ross Anderson’s shed, and his very own flat – Ben Holland has certainly moved around a bit while creating his latest album, South on East Street. An interesting fact about Ben, a Carlisle native, now residing in a small town called London: while busking at Waterloo station, Joan Armatrading walked by, liked what she heard and invited Ben to be support on her European tour. How about that!?
South on East Street isn’t this unsigned artist’s first rodeo. He has released numerous records, along with performing around this fair city. Today, South on East Street is in our possession.
Opening with “King of Clowns” a slow beat manoeuvres to vocals that are very Dylan-esque. Bob Dylan is an influence in Ben’s music up to today. “November in Paris” caresses the soulful folk atmosphere that Ben has immersed his soul into. His knack of writing beautiful lyrics captures this listener.
The opening line to “If I Die Tomorrow” is dark with a touch of wit within in: “If I die tomorrow / Dress my corpse in drag”. I love that stuff. This record shows Ben is a wordsmith.
“Queen of Spades” comes with a Pogues vibe, a perfect pub song that that stands at 10 minutes long. It’s based on the story by Russian poet, playwright and novelist Alexandr Pushkin.
Two favourite tracks on this record for me are “That Will Get You Through” and “Blood and Gold”. In the latter, the words “They called her Alice ’cause she liked to dream. Of wonderlands she’d never seen. Found her face down in a shallow stream…” This gave me a wonderful, vivid image in my mind. I love words that stir the imagination in a still mind.
If you’re a fan of the likes of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, then Ben Holland is someone you seriously should check out.