Understandably, some great albums go under the radar. There isn’t just more music than ever before – there are so many places to find it. We’d like to think all artists use all channels, but that’s not the case. And even if an album IS on Spotify, it can take time for it to be recognized or recommended.
Benjamin James‘ latest endeavor, 2017’s “Change is Everything”, is arguably one such album I’ve found a bit too late for my comfort. The NC resident is already hard at work on a new EP, but it would be remiss to focus solely on upcoming material. “Change is Everything” definitely earns some press, with its eclectic mix of Sufjan Stevens-esque vocals, chamber pop sensibilities, and careful use of electronic elements. It’s everything I love about Songs of Water, only augmented by a sense of modernity. Naturally, lyrics maintain a level of poetic artistry as well. It’s simply good.
James exemplifies the best of solo and singer-songwriter projects and he isn’t afraid to put his name behind the music, either. “Change is Everything” is simultaneously vulnerable and roaring; tracks like Luminary show more restraint, while Monolith is a bit more of a powerhouse. Each instrument has its place, with highlights placed largely on the chamber instruments: strings and auxiliary percussion get plenty of time in the spotlight, reminiscent of The Oh Hellos (Magnetics is great example). Even bass is used strategically, giving a strong low-end presence on the album.
The range of dynamics on “Change is Everything” is certainly noteworthy. It could rightly be deemed cinematic, with strategic crescendos and intentionally-sparse arrangements complementing each other. Ultimately, the album is beautifully-composed and should definitely draw James some well-earned attention.
For fans of: Surjan Stevens, Songs of Water, Anathallo, The Welcome Wagon, The Oh Hellos