I could see a talent like Laura Benson being compared to incredible, heavy hitting singer/songwriters that I’m sure many would love to be compared to. However, I don’t like comparing artists to one another; Benson made a very distinctive impression on me that sets her apart from anyone else.
Icarus Falls is an endearing combination of sweetness, vulnerability and honesty. A beautiful blend of folk and bluegrass tones keep this EP wrapped up in a very comforting, smile inducing sound. Benson let us know that the entire EP was recorded by candlelight which I wholeheartedly believe given what I got to hear.
Benson’s vocals have a timeless quality; she has incredible control over her pipes. Her music isn’t one that demands copious amounts of diaphragm flexing. Her challenge lies more in the endurance game. She is a storyteller, and clearly likes to tell a story to completion which means her songs can get pretty lengthy.
The lyrics are another high point; they go from yearning, to romantic to even a little metaphysical. There seem to be two journeys going on at the same time within the five tracks. First is one that’s emotional; she wears it all on her sleeve. She pours out her experiences and desires like an open diary.
The second journey is one that’s more literal; she talks about real places and the vast stretches she’s traveled. The two journeys circle around each-other bumping into one another from time to time and it all fits together seamlessly. Every track has a story. By the time I was done listening I could picture a map with markers and notes and other indications of travel all over it.
Benson also happens to be a regular renaissance woman with lots of instrumental talent. You get a glimmer of that talent within the music. One of my favorites resides in the track “Bones” where you get a beautiful, understated string solo. “Bones” was an immediate standout for me, apparently dedicated to a house Benson lived in in Austin, Texas which was later torn down. The song later unfurls into a statement about the struggles and concepts of home. This is a great example of the literal and emotional journey theme she plays on.
Icarus Falls is not a bells and whistles kind of work. It doesn’t need much to shine, but I would like to give credit to Tony Leong (mixing) and Terry Yerves (mastering). This kind of music required a light, professional touch. The audio has a quintessential balance to it, not too raw, but certainly not overdone. You get that wonderful sensation that she’s nearby which adds to the intimacy of the listening experience.
My only wish was to get a little bit more overall musical diversity, which I know can be a challenge for any artist when doing a limited number of tracks. I get the sense Benson has more range and diversity in instruments as well as song structure to give. I think it would’ve been beneficial to get a taste of everything she has to offer. This EP was very specific and I think she hit all the notes she wanted to hit and it makes for an outstanding listen.
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