Ahead of its scheduled September release, Glenarm man Ben Glover sent us a copy of ‘Atlantic’, so we were pretty keen to get this new serving from one of our favourite County Antrim musicians on our turntable and sample the highlights.

‘This World is Dangerous Place’ opens the album. A stripped back song that features Ben accompanied only by acoustic and low key electric guitar. Indeed the stripped back sound sets up what is more organic sound than we’ve previously heard from Ben and we like it. There’s a real warm and earthy feel to the warnings it gives the listener; “nails in the road”, “bottles on the floor” and “lie somebody told” all add to wonderful imagery.

‘Oh Soul’ is co-written with Mary Gauthier and it harks back to a journey Ben made to the Mississippi Delta to visit the graveside of Robert Johnson. The song clearly takes inspiration from the old legend of Johnson selling his soul at the crossroads and the deal with the devil. It features regret, realisation, a call for redemption and learning to live with life’s choices. Again the stripped down production lends authenticity and heart to the music.

Harmonies railroad us into ‘Too Long Gone’. This is the edgiest we’ve possible ever heard Ben. He’s got a real drawl in his vocal as he sings of ghosts in chains and thunder in the distance while the female harmonies add contrast to his throaty snarl on the chorus of too long gone. Raw sounding electing and acoustic guitars backed by a pounding repetitive drum beat make this one of the standout songs on the album and one that has potential HBO soundtrack written all over it.

‘True Love’s Breaking My Heart’ is classic Nashville and it’s clear to see that this is an artist who’s grown comfortable with his life there and absorbed the music into his veins. It’s all mournful slide guitars, rambling highways and broken hearts. This could be Hank Williams or Willie Nelson signing as the song carries us away on its bittersweet journey.

‘Prisoner’ tells a tale of buried guns, empty towns and going on the run. It continues the theme of redemption and forgiveness as the chorus calls out “oh my lord, oh my lord forgive me / oh my lord I’m prisoner of my history”.

Another co-write is ‘Black Bird’. This time it’s Gretchen Peters writing and sharing the vocals with Ben. An eerie murder ballad which really gets your spine tingling. It conjures mental pictures of swarming black birds, guns and burning cane fields while telling a tale of betrayal, murder and promises of meetings in hell. Without doubt one of our favourite songs from the whole album.

At this point we’re thinking that Ben has recorded this album somewhere deep in the Mississippi Delta and we couldn’t have been more wrong. Recorded in a cottage in Ballyliffin, County Donegal with musicians Matt McGinn, and Colm McClean, a studio set up in the living room and Ben brought in Nashville guitarist Kris Donegan to round out the collaboration. The result is an example of an artist who sounds really at home and confident in himself and his music. There’s an honesty and brutality to the stripped back production which exposes the songs and allows them to stand for themselves. Donegan’s eclectic guitar is dark and gritty, yet subtle and even sweet in places.

Recent years have seen Ben tour with both Mary Gauthier and Gretchen Peters and it is testament to him and his abilities that not only do they tour together, share a stage together, but now write and record together. We’re confident that there’s a lot more to come on Ben’s musical odyssey and we look forward to following him on his way.

‘Atlantic’ is released worldwide on the 1st September 2014 and Ben will be performing some Irish dates in support of the album.

Thursday 18th September Flowerfield Arts Centre, Porstewart
Friday 19th September The Ulster Museum, Belfast
Saturday 11th October Ballyliffin, Co. Donegal

Visit Ben Glover’s website for more details on purchasing ‘Atlantic’ and further tour dates.