If this latest release, his third LP, from Gothenburg’s Benjamin Folke Thomas sounds familiar it isn’t because the songs sound like those of another artist. These songs, this album, will feel like you’ve owned it for years after just a few listens.
There is warmth in the music, so much soul in Thomas’ smooth baritone vocals and a story that unfolds in each of the 10 songs. It’s a collection of songs that will command your full attention.
That’s not to say that this is at all schmaltzy or sweetness and light. The stories within these songs are introspective and see Thomas’ in a consistently reflective mood, particularly on the singles ‘Finn’ and ‘Copenhagen 30/6’. The former, released a little over a year ago, is a remembrance of Ben’s Grandfather. It also touches on his relationship with his older sister and her influence on him. It is beautifully constructed, morose but uplifting at the same time. The latter, as I have spoken about already here, finds Ben dwelling on love and relationships.
It shouldn’t be assumed that the rest of the album is a step below the singles. There is much to appreciate throughout this album. The finger picking acoustic guitar and sweet slide guitars that are so prevalent are primary reasons for the feelings of warmth this record provides, alongside contemplative vocals. I’m certain that Thomas would list a multitude of folk singers as inspiration for his music. For me, vocally, in places he is closest to Bruce Springsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad album (which is never a bad thing).
The album’s opening track ‘Good Enough for Me’, which is itself another single, is an uplifting start to the album with a rolling bassline and soaring chorus. It’s a lovely song. That an album can have such strong retrospective tones yet also provide uplifting moments such as this, the apt ‘Rhythm and Blues’ and ‘Bad News’ which is a drum-led piece that verges on electronic, is testament to the abilities of this charming singer and band.
Undoubtedly though, Benjamin Folke Thomas sits most comfortably when lamenting times gone by, or relationships. Copenhagen has plenty of that. It’s a beautiful record, summed up by the album closer ‘Gimme a Smile’ with some brittle finger plucking style guitar woven with that wonderfully expressive baritone vocal. An elegant, understated end to a stunning record.
A quick listen to his back catalogue proves Thomas to be a wonderful, honest and autobiographical songwriter with a soulful country sound. Copenhagen is the best offering yet. Released on March 3rd, I cannot recommend this LP enough.