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Benedict: Seeds are No Small Thing

When I first clicked on her website I read "Benedict does nothing like everyone else. She was born in one of the most remote places on earth, a few kilometers from one of the world's biggest crater fields. She grew up in the heart of a wild, rebellious nature, of breathtaking beauty. This will shape her artistic life and sensibility". It was then that I knew I had to hear her music. Well the video for "Listen to the Sand" was more than enough to want to hear the whole album.

Benedict is a solo, unsigned artist - as of today, from France that will make you wonder what the record labels were thinking. This is excellent music and hopefully this review and the pending interview will help get the word out about Benedict's talents. Accompanying Benedict, who sings lead and backing vocals, on this debut album, are Bruce Cherbit, on drums; Antoine Reininger and Cyril Nobilet, on bass guitar; Alban Sautour and Fred Mariolle, on lead guitar; Jean Kapsa, on piano; Joël Grare, plays percussion, and the strings are performed by the Czech Television Orchestra.

How many ways are there to describe a singer's unique voice? As many as there are singers, right? Well, I have listened to my share of female voices lately and I think Benedict really has a cool sound that sets her apart. Well, here it goes: Benedict has the power and directness of a Neko Case or Joan Osborne, mixed with the impassive tones of Fiona Apple or Suzanne Vega. All this while at the same time delivering deep emotional lyrics that incorporate a soft welcome with a slight accent.

So let's start from the beginning. "Listen to the Sand" was my first introduction and it is a powerful statement for a new artist. Benedict sings, "The sand, soft and languid, appeals to the infinite. Over there, in your neck. It runs on hills, bare valleys, and it flows, delicate, caressing each part of skin. There's no beginning nor end". Yah, bet you wanna hear more after that? Especially if you hear the soft cool melody playing behind her. You need to hear this one with headphones to take in the full experience. Watch the video and you will be hooked. The spacey keys, chimes, and pulsing bass take you away from every care you may be feeling. Then the orchestrated strings fill the empty spaces of the soundscape. Off to dreamland, "In the deepness of spaces. Listen, listen to the sand and on boundless distances. The stars, they multiply. Sprinkle in the darkest sky". What more can I say, it's all there.

"Exile" is a rocker, full of deep bass with interesting and unique lead guitar, and Benedict's voice. The flaming guitar solos that rise out of that constantly surrounding deep bass are something to behold as Benedict sings, "Empty people. Naked eyes. Dumb smile…Drinking at a fountain of boredom. My head may be full of winter. But I always hear the tree, forgotten in this foreign land". Again…what more can I say.

"Ocean" opens with Benedict softly speaking, "Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep…" But wait there is so much more on this…maybe my favorite track on the album. Benedict sings, "Ocean whispers. Salty teardrops. Ocean's howling. Overwhelming. And waves. Ripple endlessly". She sings that through the orchestrated strings, deep bass, and thundering piano work building a magnificent ocean sea storm reminiscent of the many I have watched on the Oregon Coast. Her voice and this music have the power to take you there as few have before. Benedict sings, "Ocean's calling from the billows. And waves they sing endlessly, 'Come and dive…" I'll follow you in.

"Four Angels" is a heavy rocker. You can tell from the full throated drums that open this one that it's gonna get rough…and soon. That eerie echoing soundscape behind takes me back to some of the Chameleons "Script of the Bridge", which is not a bad place to go at all. And then Benedict sings, "See, the children are corrupted. Everybody's now just walking. On a way of crime, hate and blood. Long told stories of broken lives. Cause everybody's all gone mad. Can you break the jaws and sharp teeth of many furious creatures?" Yah a dark scene and view of where we may be heading. Her deep heavier vocal helps both sooth and forewarn simultaneously.

How about this title, "Sailing on Ice Vessels"? Yah, I bet you will want to hear it as much as I did. Well, this one is right up there with "Ocean" near the top of the list. The deep piano and slow paced mood of this one lives up to its name. Benedict sings, "Someone painted your sparkles, adoring you. And I wanna be the winter embracing you. Oh I need to quiet down the fever. Someone's tired of long battles. While snow falls, winds sing in your abysses. Shadowy corners and sharp edges…In the clear language of your heart." Deep as a January snow on Mt. Rainier.

"Cursed" is a good Led Zep like rocker full of great power lead electric guitar, bass, and drums. But, they didn't have such wonderful female vocals to help adorn their brilliant music. And the lyrics are up to the challenge as Benedict sings, "Can't you see me wondering? You are still blaming. When I'm forgiving. I am wounded and you're the arrow. If you are faith well I'll be the glow. And if you ever share my love. I'll kiss you first and remain cursed". Yes, the power you remember from the lyrics of your favorites of the 70s.

"Gardenia" has a few guitar solos which will take you back to Zep again, but this one is different. Cat crawling bass and lead electric softly stepping slowly with those punching drums as Benedict sings, "Wet air. Lush smells. Pure. Intoxicating. I wake up in the darkness. Shadow scares me. Don't remember who I am. Shadow haunts me. Can't remember where I am". Excellent.

Deep bass plucked over Benedict's modulated vocals singing, "I rush into the woods. Summer stormy weather. I run between the trees. White shimmering feather. Flying in the thick breeze…" Yes, all the feeling of "July" in a song. The power and the promise of a coming summer captured in a warm ocean breeze. She even adds a little "grungy" guitar to the sound to help take you right back to the fun days of early Pearl Jam.

"Paper Boat" is another, slower rocker full of solid guitar, deep bass and solid drums. Benedict sings, "I feel like I'm a paper boat floating. Fragile piece of blue paper". When she sings "Paper boat floating" you almost want to complete the sentence with "Paper Back Writer".

"Salamander" is full of deep bass and heavy lead at the outset. Benedict sings, "Awaken but paralyzed. There's a hidden flame. Don't turn on the light. Awaken but paralyzed. There's a hidden flame. A spirit of fire". Yah, riding on a storm for sure. The orchestration and keys add so much to the emotions and mood of the track. "Strange lights inside your brain. Made of gold and fire. Who cares about eternity, when it enters into time?" Breathe deep the gathering lyrics.

"Solar Lag" opens with "We thought this would be the day. We thought it could be now. Dawn's coming. Stretching at the horizon. Sleepy night veils. My hopes were just a moon beam. Now blasted by the light. Crimson dawn. Sadly driving in its trail. My secret dreams", set to deep, soft strings and orchestration. Benedict truly fills this track with powerful emotions as a movie soundtrack surrounds her.

"Seed" is a soft piano and bass melody set to slow punched drums. Benedict sings, "There was a time. I was a child lost and alone. Dry ocher clay and sharp stone. You came to me. Walking under the burning sun. Your words will bloom in springtime. I'll be sleeping on a leaf. Fall will catch me shivering. In the safety of this garden, this quiet, windless garden". Solid power and emotional feeling in her vocals as the lead guitar strums on and the soft drums and bass surround her.

As the title states after all, Seeds are No Small Thing. Certainly in the case of this debut nothing could be closer to the truth. (Nice how Benedict chose a singular artists name. If people are going to be writing about you they may as well do it with the name you chose, right?) This lady is well organized.

I think I've said enough. Let Benedict plant a seed in your ear and hear it grow. You can thank her later.

Track Listing:

1. Listen to the Sand
2. Exile
3. Ocean
4. Four Angels
5. Sailing on Ice Vessels
6. Cursed
7. Gardenia
8. July
9. Paper Boat
10. Salamander
11. Sun Lag
12. Seed

Added: September 1st 2013
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link:
Hits: 4951
Language: english

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