Valley of Stars – Ben Bedford

‘Valley of Stars’ is Ben Bedford’s 6th studio album and without doubt his most ambitious and creative release to date.

Valley of Stars

Ben Bedford

  • Americana
  • Folk

  1. Leaping
  2. Wolves
  3. Darkflight
  4. Murmurations
  5. Leopard & Hare
  6. Hare on the Down
  7. In the Court of the Bear
  8. Adder
  9. Stars & Skywheel
  10. Weasel, Pike, Fox, & Kite
  11. In the Shelter of Indomitable Momma Badger

There’s magic in this record right from the start. The main protagonist, Hare, embarks on an ethereal journey through a vivid natural landscape populated by various creatures including bears, wolves and badgers.

However, this isn’t an anamorphic fictional tale in the sense of ‘Watership Down’ or ‘The Wind in The Willows’, instead the creatures provide a metaphor for a time in Bedford’s life when he had to face up to personal challenges brought about by divorce, depression, OCD and isolation brought on by COVID 19 lockdowns.

‘Leaping’ opens the album with a song that imagines Hare emerging from isolation to find his friends again.  ‘Wolves’ details the plight of a wolf pack on the hunt, while the instrumental ‘Darkflight’ represents a startled Hare running away from the pack. ‘Leopard and Hare’ describes how Hare tries to provide comfort to his old friend the leopard, who is depressed and his attempts to cheer him with the jig styled instrumental ‘Hare on the Down’.

What is clear from the first half of the album and Bedford’s vivid lyrics is that through nature he is exploring themes of loss, depression, isolation and fear through his music, and what wonderful music it is.  Bedford’s guitar playing has never sounded so good and his vocal adds to the story quality of the songs.  Backed by musician friends, Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, Chas Williams, guitar/dobro and Kari Floyd on backing harmonies the resulting music ranges from Americana, Baroque and Jazz, all woven together into an ethereal soundscape.

And, what about Hare I hear you ask?  Well, He still has many adventures, ‘Adder’, ‘Weasel, Pike, Fox and Kite’ detail the many perils he faces on his journey, again metaphorically highlighting the emotions that we all face of when confronted with danger, fear and violence, before finding shelter in the album closer, ’In the Shelter of Indomitable Momma Badger’.

Without doubt, Bedford has excelled himself with ‘Valley of Stars’.  His songs are vibrant, engaging and imaginative, while the music is otherworldly and comforting.  I am very much reminded of the work that Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner produced in the 1970s for the television show Bagpuss.

‘Valley of Stars’ confirms Ben Bedford’s impressive talent as a master crafter of songs and music, and is a welcome addition to his already impressive back catalogue.