Monday, 26 October 2009
Another trip to the Gladstone. This time to see a double-header of Trent Miller and Ben Folke Thomas. To call these two singer-songwriters will not doubt damn them in many eyes but that's at base what they are. They also happen to be the two most exciting prospects on the London live scene currently, and to have seen them develop (by leaps and bounds) over the last nine months has been a fascinating experience.
Interestingly, and perhaps not without significance, neither of them are English; Trent's Italian and Ben's Swedish; but it takes a while to gather that. What strikes you is their assurance and their familiarity with the varied forms of past American music. Ben with Dylan, Prine, and their ilk; Trent with Robert Johnson, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Thin White Rope (at times there's a clear echo of Guy Kyser to his singing voice).
Trent is driven. He's already put out one album this year - Cerberus - and he's written a load more songs and is adding more musicians. Saturday I don't think he played one song off Cerberus though he did play his Gene Clark tribute song and JLP's 'Secret Fires'. Not coincidentally there's a Trent original of that title on Cerberus which you'll find a fuller review of in BoB#73.
Ben often seems more laid back but it's something of an act. He's now fronting a five-piece band with the ubiquitous rhythm section of Graham Knight and Steve Brookes, the impressive lap steel and slide guitar of Paul Cuddeford, and now added the splendid violin of a young woman called Barbara who's previously played with Dan Raza. He comes over with a simulacra of the stage moves of the early 90s Bob Dylan (when he would have been about five) and lyrically he's not averse to quoting the Zim. This in no way negates the fact that he's an inventive lyricist and has a good eight or nine songs to form the basis of a memorable debut album.
So far there is no Ben Thomas product, though there was a limited edition (of ten) CD in September and there's four-track promo doing the rounds. However you ought be champing at the bit for songs like 'Paradise Lost', 'Can't Live That Way', and 'Hole In My Heart'.
Posted by Nick Bob at 13:41