I don't think the bass drum stopped for a minute, constantly waxing and waning between a slow simmer and completely boiling over with jazz-influenced beats. I was amazed at the two guitarists' ability to execute such complicated riffs together infused with such feeling, illuminating the difference between good technique and truly masterful playing. The other guitarist took turns on keys and supporting vocals, the bassist lending his voice for a few songs as well. The writing and placement of all the oohs and ahhs against Ben's pretty, wistful vocal lines was sublime on 'Rue Dauphine', the urgent bass drum and vaguely forboding verses reminding me a little of 'Paint it Black'.
I was at the show with Lauren Novik who happened to be covering the next band Rumspringa (check out her interview to follow), and she nudged me during 'Rising Tides' to indicate that that was her favorite song. I couldn't agree more, the nostalgic ballad containing more emotion than is digestible in one listen. The arrangement, instrumentation, and vocals are Beach Boys but heavy on the Motown, complete with the irresistible urge to sway and snap your fingers. Ben's tranquil vocals soar over the despondent guitar lines, the backup vocalizations adding that extra dimension of interest It's the kind of song you want to listen to over and over again, each time finding some new sweet strain to follow. I could almost hear its Morning Bell-style electro alter-ego: it's a song that both stands on its own and has great potential for variations But it's not the only one, which I think is a real testament to the visionary song writing skills of Ben Becker. It's one thing to house such a beautiful world within oneself, but quite another to be able to express it so beautifully to others.