A force to be reckoned with...

There are few artists with a voice as lovingly dependable as Benjamin Francis Leftwich. His wispy, Elliott Smith-eque delivery instantly set him aside when the timeless 'Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm' arrived back in 2011. Luckily, his third album 'Gratitude' is equally enchanting. If his debut evoked scenes of a warm log cabin in the pines, 'Gratitude' is sonically richer, modern sounding at points.

As he's previously discussed with Clash, traveling the globe left the singer burnt-out at the end of 2017, with plenty of intense deep thinking, self-realisation and subsequently, seeking help and guidance getting clean. It's evident from the off as he sings "Look at all the peace I’ve found / Appreciate the sounds / Birds are in the garden now" on the title track. It's a rebirth in spirit and in sound, with follow-up 'Hey Ma!' perhaps his most optimistic song to date. 'Tell Me You Started To Pray' is equally uplifting, 'Luzern' is as subtly sweet as the scenic City its named after, as is the gorgeous 'Real Friends', complete with Bon Iver-esque vocoder flourishes. 

His distinctive songwriting style remains, yet it’s the addition of piano, beats, sax and electronic production that gives 'Gratitude' a production sheen most fans may not be expecting. It’s also what lends a progressive edge to the record that takes time to soak in, but ultimately rewards.

Yet at the centre of 'Gratitude' is still what made Leftwich so relatable in the first place, his very human, heart-on-sleeve approach. And with ‘Gratitude’ he’s shown he’s still a force to be reckoned with.

7/10

Words: Clarke Geddes

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