Ben Kyle 'Self-Titled'- Self-Release

I first became aware of Ben Kyle via his duet album We Still Love Our Country with Carrie Rodriguez. Previously he had fronted the band Romantica which actually would have made a good title for this album. It has an airy, gentleness and lightness of touch that is immediately appealing. Kyle's voice is front and centre on what is a personal album that deals with the gulf between being a working musician who needs to tour and being a family man, a dilemma that is a constant struggle for many musicians. Not that you need to actually understand the words here, as you are carried along by the sound that is both ethereal and compelling.

Over a subtle bass, drum and guitar foundation the key sound here is pedal steel guitar. On one track The Dark there are four pedal steel guitarists credited and that instrument is ideal for the music that Kyle has created.

The songs are transportive and have a strong human and spiritual quality such as on Mercy. Nothing breaks the mood and atmosphere of the song’s overall lightness, despite songs like The Dark having a bleaker tone of not wanting to leave a loved one. The lyrics featured in the booklet show a writer of skill and understanding who has opened himself to reveal something truthful and honest.

Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, the album was nonetheless different from what I had imagined and one to which I have returned many times.  It is one which I recommended wholeheartedly. If not exactly an  roots album, despite the presence of pedal steel, it is what it is and different from anything else heard this year.