Cold Rooms is the third EP from Ben Morgan-Brown, though the first he hasn't recorded himself, with Josh Clark doing the honours this time. The five songs that appear on the record were written over a turbulent eighteen months, during which he lost both grandparents, got married and divorced, spent a month in a Morocco hospital with salmonella, and culminated with the death of his father. It's not surprising that such events would lead to a re-evaluation, and last October he left his job managing a guitar shop to dedicate himself to his music.
It doesn't take much of a listen to know where Morgan-Brown's influences come from. Inspired to pick up a guitar after listening to Bert Jansch, he lists the likes of John Martyn, Michael Chapman, and (inevitably) Nick Drake as influences. It's not unusual to see these names, and Drake's in particular turns up a lot in bios and press releases. It's more unusual for it not to be completely out of sorts with the music on the release. Ben Morgan-Brown is not Nick Drake, but he has that same warmth and genuine emotion, not to mention a similar intricacy to his guitar playing.
That intricacy comes to the fore with the title track, with an understated vocal that is full of feeling. It's gentle, yet strangely uplifting, a song to listen to with your eyes closed to let it wash over you, though preferably not if you're driving. I See That You is a three minute elegant instrumental which feels very late 60s / early 70s, from the glory days of ornate folk rock. Been Away and Sunken Treasure are both wonderfully sumptuous tracks, as warming and satisfying as an open fire. The highlight though is No More Fooling, which is both wonderfully sparse and incredibly complex, and features perhaps his best vocal performance.
Now that his music is taking centre stage in his life, Ben Morgan-Brown is beginning to get some well-deserved attention, particularly in the South-West. Supporting the likes of Daria Kulesh and Velvet & Stone early this year will surely get him some new fans, and that is richly deserved. There is a timeless quality to his music that feels at once retro and modern at the same time. With quality releases like Cold Rooms under his belt, this won't be the last time you hear the name Ben Morgan-Brown.
|Joan Baez: Whistle Down The Wind||Fran Wyburn: Wood For The Trees|
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