Benjamin Francis Leftwich – After The Rain
Back in 2011, the “new-folk” scene was at its peak. Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale, Laura Marling were cruising up the charts. The likes of Johnny Flynn and Ben Howard were on the up and one of the newer faces in the game was York-based songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich.
His debut record promised much and ‘Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm’ delivered. Since then it’s been all quiet but far from uneventful. Leftwich lost his father to cancer and spent a long time wrestling with inner demons in the aftermath. There may have been many albums worth of self-destruction and anger in there but we’ll never know for sure.
In 2016, Benjamin Francis Leftwich has emerged from that self-imposed cocoon with ‘After The Rain’, an aptly entitled record that’s cool, fresh and hopefully indicative of brighter times ahead.
The impact of such a family tragedy obviously touches on many of the songs but as a whole, it’s a work of hope and renewal. In places, it’s hushed and whispered with only delicately plucked acoustic guitar and the occasional blip of a synth.
It’s an album that could so easily have wallowed in self-pity but with a keen ear to the lyrics, you can tell this has been a truly cathartic experience for Leftwich. The old artist is still lurking in there. The intimate vocal and delicate delivery are reminiscent of his early work but in working with Steve Mason and Charlie Andrew on production, there’s a more electronic sound, a more expansive soundscape and a few songs which really stand out from the crowd. ‘Some Other Arms’ and ‘Groves’ in particular are both musically superb and fitting tributes to a father.
It’s an astounding return to form, exceeding all expectations from the almost forgotten man of new-folk. Let’s hope we hear much more from Benjamin Francis Leftwich in the near future, and hope the journey isn’t quite as hard.