Ben West is a singer/songwriter based in Seattle, WA. He creates memorable melodies on the acoustic guitar while using his powerful timbre to draw listeners in. He is accompanied by Drew Stergion on electric guitar and lead acoustic who also lends his voice to duets and harmonies throughout the songs on this four-track EP Leo Ego. This is a captivating partnership as the dueling guitar rhythms between West and Stergion produce many an arresting soundscape. I felt like there was a lot of ambiance and mood behind these tracks as both West and Stergion’s contributions weave a sound brimming with emotions and atmosphere. It really feels like West is really singing his heart out as he throws himself into these songs.
Leo Ego opens up with “Wet Cement,” where the guitar melody that starts off this track is reminiscent of some heavy grunge. Once West’s vocals come in, this grunge feeling continues. As the guitars and bongos highlight this song, the emotionality behind the vocals and lyrics is compelling. The intensity of this track doesn’t wax or wane but only grows more powerful. West really delivers on all counts. On the title track “Leo Ego,” right from the start you can feel the exuberance of the vocals. The music that accompanies the vocals are the same frequency - definitely a cathartic song.
Slowly as some finger-picking on the guitar is realized on “Puzzle Piece,” the melody becomes even more evolved. Some acoustic guitars also highlight a very island and reggae flavor. This seemed to be a very contagious jam perfect for enjoying your time at the beach. Later on in the song, the vocals are spewed out in a fast-paced fashion that nearly sounds like a rap sequence. A peaceful melody on the guitar then leads to a foot-stomping country-bent anthem on “Free.” I greatly enjoyed the energy of this piece and the overlapping vocal harmonies. This felt like a heartfelt way to close the album.
As a self-taught musician, West takes this DIY process to the next step by writing all the songs himself. Inspired by singer/songwriters of the ‘60s and ‘70s such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Carole King as well as more contemporary acts like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Ray Lamontagne and Iron and Wine, West adds his voice to these legends and offers his own take to the acoustic, indie folk and singer/songwriter genres. At the core, these tracks are all about West and Stergion on their guitars with vocals. Through this simple formula a lot of color and emotional resonance is able to come through. I thought this would be perfect for the coffee shop or open mic crowd. Something a small, intimate crowd could really appreciate.
There was just something so up-close-and-personal to West’s performances that says this. This is a good introduction to his music. West is planning to record a full-length album called No Hard Feelings in the spring of 2022 and if Leo Ego is any indication to his sound on his future release then we certainly have a lot to look forward to! Be sure you stay tuned for any further updates.
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