Monday, September 21, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: BEN CAPLAN - BIRDS WITH BROKEN WINGS
You can forgive Caplan for taking four years to follow up his debut album. In that time, he's performed over a thousand shows, many of them in Europe where he has a devoted fan base as well. All those nights of roaring above the crowds and commanding attention has served him well. This is a confident, exciting set of tunes, with Caplan exploring a wide range of sounds.
With him is producer Socalled, another klezmer-head, plus a man not afraid to try it all. The duo piled on another thirty-five musicians on the tracks, trying out every player and instrument they could find in Montreal, looking for the coolest bit, everything from cimbalom to darbouka to concert harp. Then in hip-hop fashion, parts would drop in and drop out just as fast. So, it's a cool listen.
But its the songs that matter in the end, and Caplan had the goods ready. A philosopher at heart, he's not afraid to enter the dark side and look at our worst traits. He doesn't point fingers, but rather observes obvious foolishness such as pollution, and wonders why we all sit back and let it happen.
It's not all edgy though; Night Like Tonight sees Caplan in crooner territory, with a beautiful arrangement and a surprisingly lovely vocal. It's a surprise in an album full of them, a major production and a full slate of strong writing and performing.