Finally can see it. I’ve landed on the ground. Look at all the peace I’ve found. Lighter in the mornings, I appreciate the sound of birds out in the garden now.

Having wrestled with his demons over the last few years, the first lyrics on his new album see Benjamin Francis Leftwich, sounding re-energised, and recapturing the optimism for life that made his first opus such a joy to the ear. The voice remains a thing of joy, at times a little more vulnerable than previous, which simply adds to its quality, given the themes of redemption, acknowledgement and growth on the album.

There has always been a connection between singer and the listener in terms of his writing. Fans seek that reassurance that things are better going forward, than looking back, and each album seeks to reassure the audience that it is so.

While his life view and poetic sensibilities are once again to the fore, Ben has also tried to move on in terms of his sound. Grouped with the “Nu-folk” movement of artists such as Laura Marling and Noah and the Whale, ‘Gratitude’ sees a move away from that wholly acoustic sound and sees the introduction of some electronica, loops and programmed drum and vocals.

On tracks such as ‘Big Fish’ and ‘I Got You’ this underscores and emphasises Ben’s beautiful vocals and the effect is quite lovely. However, there are times when the production and introduction of electronica, is quite jarring and rather detracts from the overall experience. Take ‘Look Ma’. Played live this is a highlight of his recent gigs, with its plaintive and positive mantra, almost a therapy in itself for the young York singer:

Look ma, I ain’t done growing. My blind eyes are slowly opening again.

But the repeated sampled operatic youth’s vocal under the recorded track, simply muddies the message, and detracts from an otherwise lovely song.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s lyrics, like all the best writers are born of individual insight and perspective, but are ultimately transferable to other’s experience. Overall the album continue a rich vein of quality music from Ben, that fans may find testing at first, but will conclusively find richly rewarding. For that, we are all grateful!

‘Gratitude’ is available now on Dirty Hit Records