Ben Marwood is a singer/songwriter from Reading, England. Outside There's A Curse, released through Xtra Mile Recordings in January 2011, is his first full length album which follows one solo and two collaboration EP's. The album is made up of ten tracks:
1. I Will Breathe You In
4. A Shower of B*stards
5. They Will Float Your Body Out To Sea
6. It's Harder Now To Break Your Stupid Heart
7. Oh My Days
8. JJ Abrams
9. Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway
10. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
The majority of this album was recorded in Marwood's bedroom which is evident through the stripped back, one take, raw feel it has about it. Most of the songs featured on this album are composed of Marwood's acoustic guitar and voice. Tracks such as 'Singalong', 'They Will Float Your Body Out To Sea' and 'JJ Abrams' introduce a few more instruments such as drums, pianos and organs but as a whole, the song structures to all of these tracks are pretty simple and provide some easy listening. Marwood's voice, however, somewhat contrasts with the calming melodies of these songs. While he does posses a soothing voice it is also somewhat rough around the edges and he isn't gifted with the greatest of vocal ranges. Having said that his typically English accent comes through his vocals strongly which adds extra charm and character to his voice. It's also nice to hear vocals which haven't obviously been auto tuned!
The lyrics of these songs do not follow any particular theme and every song seems tackle a different subject. The songs are fairly personal to Marwood and it can often be quite difficult to relate to them. However none of the tracks are particularly serious, a lot of the lyrics are clever, witty and quite funny - it's clear Marwood has no problem with laughing at himself. The song 'Singalong', as the title suggests, is a song you can sing along to very easily with it's catchy chorus and simple lyrics, the main line being 'I tried to write a singalong but we all forgot the words'. In this song Marwood explores the idea of needing to grow a beard to continue playing in English Folk clubs and expresses that fact he knows he'll never be featured in NME due to this 'stupid hair and wonky teeth'. As far as light hearted, catchy songs go this one is definitely one of my favourites.
'Tell Avril Lavigne I Never Wanted To Be Her Stupid Boyfriend Anyway' is a lot darker, written in minor chords this song is purely a guitar and a voice and describes feelings of longing for a girl he can never have. It's probably the most serious song on the album although still doesn't tug at your heart strings or anything. It's a soft track that tends to have me singing along from time to time though. The album ends with an acoustic cover of The Postal Service's 'District Sleeps Alone Tonight' which I personally feel he did a very good job of covering. It's a fair bit different from the original which I always like to hear (who wants to listen to an exact copy of a song)? The slow, gentle beat of this track brings the album to a relaxing and calm close which doesn't leave me feeling disappointed.
I wouldn't say this is an album I feel like playing through again once it's finished and, unless you're paying close attention, there are times where the songs can run into one another and sound pretty similar. Regardless, I still enjoy this album and can't wait to see what else Ben Marwood has in store for the future.
The album can be bought from Amazon, hard copies costing £4.99 and digital downloads costing £7.90. Also available from Itunes for £6.99. Xtra Mile Recordings website (www.xtramilesrecordings.com) also sell hard copies of this album for £8.99 and digital downloads for £6.99.
Warning - The album features explicit content.