This is a review of "Woodland Whites & Spring Curls" recorded by Benjamin Wetherill. The review was written by Gavin Miller in 2004.
Heavens! Another Benjamin Wetherill CD is quietly making its way around the Leeds scene.
This time however, it's even more stripped down than his previous EP. This time it’s just Benjamin alone with his guitar – very little overdubs, no other instruments, just one man and his voice. The end result is a CD that sounds more forlorn, more consistent and a lot more melancholic.
Focusing more on Benjamin's interest in folk-orientated music, and featuring a cover of a traditional 17th century English folk song ('Barbara Allen') this new EP feels like a much more mature effort, if a little dark in places.
Opener 'Woodland Whites' is a beautiful little number, with Wetherill's unmistakable minor chord shifts and finger plucked acoustic guitar slowly seeping from the stereo speakers. Its honey-dripped melodies and a beautiful, haunting quality lend the song a distinctly eerie aura about it. It works though, as musically it sounds beautifully constructed, and Benjamin's voice sounds as fragile as ever, like every word matters and every breath could be his last.
The aforementioned folk ditty of 'Barbara Allen' is up next, and at over five minutes long, isn't exactly the most listenable song he's ever performed. That said, it's a sweet tune, beautifully played and sung with that warm refrain and fragility that is always a high point in any of Benjamin Wetherill's songs, be them covers or otherwise.
'Spring Curls' is a small respite from all the downbeat melancholia, with its jaunty finger plucking and its melodic feel, it's a nice lift. Plus at barely two minutes, it skips along nicely. Oooh, I feel all bright and summery now.
'Black Rose' finishes up the EP, with another mournful, Leonard Cohen-esque grim tale of loves lost, and really highlights Benjamin Wetherill as a superb songwriter and a brilliant musician. Not too long, it sweeps along beautifully and leaves you with that hazy, starry eyed look about you.
Anyone who has yet to discover the work of Benjamin Wetherill should be forced at gun point to get their hands on a copy of this.