Last year the band The Fallen Stars got paired with Australian singer/songwriter Ben Riddle to tour Europe and it wasn’t too long before the acts starting joining each other on stage. The meeting of the band and Riddle was pure serendipity and the label Songs & Whispers encouraged them to record an album together. Not too much later they released an album entitled This Is Happening (No not the LCD Soundsystem album) under the name Riddle & The Stars.
After listening to the twelve songs from the album I'm happy to report that the label gave them good advice. The music on This Is Happening revolves around acoustic-based Americana that fills your heart with warmth. From the guitars, to the violins, to the vocals and more - if there were one word I had to choose to describe this album it would be comfort. The songs on the album wrap you in solace and often let your shed your worries if however fleeting.
The album starts with “Cornershop Love,” which is a song that serves as a great introduction as it displays the strengths of the band. Swells of sound that feel like light, acoustic guitar, and light percussion support some of Riddle’s most memorable vocal harmonies. He sings, “Do you see it Can you feel it There’s no right or wrong no wrong or right just love that keeps living on.” Riddle does have a great voice. It contains a blend of nostalgia, hope and melancholy. It brims with emotion and is just as warm as the instrumentation.
”Massachusetts” features female vocals and is an upbeat song, which contains a bit of nostalgia but a surplus of sounds that also feels triumphant and hopeful. The title track “This is Happening” has its roots in bluegrass and feels very much like a traditional song that has been around for decades. It’s a jovial track that brings to mind a celebration. The last two tracks may have been the highlight of the album. Riddle delivers arguably his best vocal performance on “Pyrenees” while “Dam” leaves on a high note.
There is something about these songs that is anew, simple and pure. As I was listening to the album I kept on visualizing the sun rising over a country hillside and I think that’s because they instill a similar experience.
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