I have never made a mistake before. At 35 some may find that hard to believe but it was absolutely true until last year some time. I received an EP to review by Mr Shaw called “I Got The Pox, The Pox Is What I Got”. I listened to it and while I could see some merits to it, I wasn’t able to get past his voice and decided not to bother reviewing it.
About a month ago when Audio Antihero told me that a new album was coming out by the same guy I thought “What on earth do they see in him ?” and decided because of the credit that this inspired and devoted little label have accrued with me that I should listen again. While I still couldn’t really get behind his voice I realized that in terms of genuine articles he was quite clearly one. Yes he is melancholy but he’s not faux melancholy; the kind that sells records to people who need an obvious symbol for how sad they are. He is a wise melancholy; the kind that anyone should be after spending more than 25 years on this ridiculous planet.
Not only is he genuine and melancholy but he can write songs. Not verse chorus middle eight blah blah blah but arrangements of sounds that actually make you feel something. When you add to that a health-ily bleak sense of humour and a passion for lo-fi noises and arrangements, you start to realise (a year too late) that Benjamin Shaw really does have something.
“There’s Always Hope, There’s Always Cabernet” is so downbeat as to be recumbent. Things that start slowly seem to slow down as songs progress and his guitar is almost inaudible at times under the weight of crackles and pops and squeaky noises. The whole thing is like being trapped in honey and lets face it if you’re going to be trapped in anything honey is the best choice. Or maybe Nutella. I digress slightly but what I’m trying to say is that Benjamin Shaw is not easy to love, but I suspect that’s one of his desires. It is very easy to respect him and that where all good relationships should start. There or in a club toilet.
I’ll be buying this album almost entirely on the strength of “Interview” and the snail’s pace lament of “Somewhere Over The M6” / “An Exciting Opportunity”. And you can consider this my written apology to both Audio Antihero and Benjamin Shaw. I get it now.