Peter Benjamin is an established singer/songwriter who was a founding member of Seattle-based post alternative band Edisyn before venturing into a solo career and releasing his 2009 debut For Your Enjoyment & Leisure. He recently released his second full-length album called The Victorian, which is a lyrical diverse pop album that tips its hats to some artists from the 70’s such as Sting, Billy Joel and even Cat Stevens. Benjamin delivers nine songs that feel cohesive with one another while deviating enough for the music not to sound stale. The production is good and sounds like it’s from the late 70’s and even 80’s at most points during the album.
According to Benjamin, “The Victorian presents the image of a man who feels isolated from the life that so many around him seem to be living.” While the subject may seem depressing the songs themselves often are often bright, and don't leave the listener feeling melancholy.
The album starts with the title track, which is one of the highlights on the album. It has forward surging energy that is manifested between the drum work (loved the brushes), the clean guitars, and his voice. I’m a sucker for a good whistler and Benjamin gets down with his skills during a couple points in the song. “Born To Love” brings things down a couple of notches and is a bit of a sexy track while “That's Right, That's Right” is a track you can probably bet had a little influence from Phil Collins.
“We Came From Montesano” is the first track that gets into atmospheric, even ambient territory. The music is very lush as it creates a warm pad of music with the percussion subtle in the mix. Towards the end of the song it starts to get a bit grandiose before hearing the remaining sustain of an instrument. “Ready To Break” was the highlight of the album for me as it presented a nice combination of perseverance, exuberance, nostalgia and hope. Benjamin solidifies the feeling of the music by singing “You're ready to change, you won't be here again for a long time so you better make the most of feeling this way.” He ends the album with the most emotional resonant song called “We Decay In Stages” which is a spacious song that moves into epic territory where he sings “Hey, we decay in stages way in the basement where you were too afraid to play.”
Benjamin brings a lot to the table with this album. It’s far from perfect and has some flaws but the overall experience is gratifying. If you are itching for some 70’s inspired folk rock with a contemporary edge I would recommend this album.
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