Ben de la Cour
HIGH COST OF LIVING STRANGE
Flour Sack Cape
An Americana Road Trip Where The Memories Will Remain Forever.
Here’s an odd thing; a PR sent this to me even though he’s not even working on promoting this album simply because he thought that me and you, my readers would like it.
How nice is that in this cynical world we live in?
It was all a very long time ago but I actually reviewed Ben de la Cour’s album GHOST LIKE in 2011 for a once important magazine; and if memory serves me well; I liked it a lot and forecast a career of money, awards and baubles on the horizon for the young Londoner out of Brooklyn.
As soon as I heard opening track Dixie Crystals I knew why Adam thought I’d like this; De la Cour has a warm and interesting voice; unlike most others and his song-writing is eloquent and detailed plus his band skirt Southern Gothic and modern Hill Country music……what’s not to like?
Baring in mind Ben’s background (born in London and raised in Brooklyn NY) there’s a distinct whiff of Magnolia, Jim Beam and the Everglades that are all pervading through these songs; not least the gorgeous tale Uncle Boudreaux Went To Texas; which is about a man who the narrator sits at his feet listening to and wallowing in his tall tales; but as his own father tells him; “The closest he ever got to Texas/was listening to Willie’s Greatest Hits.”
We’ve all got an Uncle Boudreaux haven’t we?
Tupelo is a darkly atmospheric tale from the Nick Cave book of songwriting; if the Australian had been born in the Southern States; with a shimmering fiddle scaring the bejasus out of me every time it comes into the light from behind some deeply unsettling drums, bass and guitar.
It’s probably best that the more feint hearted don’t listen to this song on their own.
Funnily enough a fiddle comes to the fore again on the next song; Guy Clark’s Fiddle which, partly because I love Guy Clark but mostly because it’s a clever and sensitive song about ‘hope in a broken world’ that I probably needed to hear that first day; and again today if truth be told.
I can’t remember very much about that 2011 album; but I was obviously correct in highlighting Ben’s songwriting skills because he sure can write a doozy. Face Down Penny is certainly the type of song that Johnny Cash would have wanted to sing on his American Series; and if I use my imagination it’s the type of song I associate and love by RMHQ Favourites Slaid Cleaves and Rod Picot; which is praise indeed.
Trying to select an actual Favourite Track isn’t as easy as it should be, as the final track here The High Cost of Living Strange under normal circumstances ticks every box we have for said honour; rumbling and very dirty guitars; an understated bass that still rattles your spine and De La Cour sounding almost demonic on a helluva Country-Gothic song; but then again any album that has a song like Company Town on it has to be very special indeed.
The first time I played the album I nearly missed Company Town, but after three minutes in I had to go back to the beginning and listen intently; as Ben’s tale of dark deeds in a dying Blue Collar rural town; or is he actually comparing America itself to that dying town is disorienting and brooding from start to finish; and rightfully takes the Favourite Track Award.
To some degree Ben de la Cour has instilled everything I love about Americana Music into his 8 songs; taking us on a road trip from the Rust Belt to the Delta and back again and the time goes by in the blink of an eye; but the memories remain with you forever.
Released April 2018