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Ben Bedford: The Hermit’s Spyglass

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This album tells a day in the life of Ben and Darwin the Cat in a farmhouse (“The Hermitage”), a proper little house on the prairie (Illinois).
Some of the tracks are short — opener Morning Rise is only 1:20), and he gulps Morning Coffee in the same time. Some are instrumental, such as The Mule And The Horse.

Opener Morning Rise is not about getting up and out, but tells of sitting on a little rise.
The lyrics tell similar simple stories but with a rustic charm.

The sound is different to your normal bloke with a guitar — in 2010, Bedford was named one of the “50 most significant folk singer-songwriters of the past 50 years” by WFMT-Chicago; even allowing for the fact that around number 32 you’d start running out of names, he’s obviously a cut above average. (The list also included Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Anaïs Mitchell, Joni Mitchell and John Prine).

His voice is comforting and warm, his guitar playing full. The sound of the guitar is warm and rounded and goes from robust strumming/picking, where he provides the melody and the rhythm, to more delicate music, from near-classical to a Spanish sound.
The feel is of being at one with nature, and walking the land appreciating every sight and smell.

On his website Bedford also sells art, and landscapes figure highly. There’s a sense of nature though it’s a civilised version; he may be watching falcons and hearing coyotes but there are no sharp claws to disturb his hipster beard. A gentle and thoughtful album for fans of Americana.

Give the money straight to Mr B:


Failing that, support your local record shop! If you’ve not got one, support us (an independent newspaper) and buy this from here:

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