And so, finally we’re in receipt of a ‘complete package’ from London born singer-songwriter Benjamin Clementine, in the form of LP ‘At Least for Now’. We’ve been teased over the past 18 months with cleverly released EP’s (Cornerstone and Glorious You) which gave us glimpses of the artists unique vocals and a sound that seemed to mix new with old. There were flashes of classical singers past but also instrumentation that would suggest that Clementine was happy to introduce a fresher edge to proceedings.
So, how does an 11 track release compare to what’s gone before? First of all lets look at the plus points. Vocally this is an absolute masterclass. Clementines range is jaw dropping while at the same time quite engaging. You listen wholeheartedly to each lyric in the same way you’d listen to a story or audio book. Every track seems to contain a message or tale that has you pushing your headphones into your skull to ensure you don’t miss a single word.
There’s also music here that follows on nicely from the aforementioned EP’s. ‘London’ contains a wonderful piano arrangement and a chorus that will be firmly implanted in your head for days to come. An of course previous release, and live favourite, ‘Cornerstone’ is the same. It contains beautiful instrumentation and is a track that deserves credit. Its full of peaks and troughs that offer something completely different to much of the mainstream creations that adorn my current inbox.
Where the album fails though is it’s in-ability to truly entertain throughout. It has a similarity in many respects that start to become a little tedious with each full listen. Clementines voice shines in what becomes quite average songwriting and those EP’s from 2014 start to look like they were giving false hope.
This unique sound that the artist has fashioned actually starts to feel a little ordinary, as each track begins to become a carbon copy of the one before. You’re almost willing for a change of pace or even the slightest change of direction. It doesn’t happen though and tedium starts to set in.
Maybe, there is a case to suggest that i was looking for too much in this release. The EP’s certainly promised a paradise of riches. But it falls short of that and i couldn’t help feeling a sense of disappointment with the finished article.
There is certainly more to come from Benjamin Clementine. His obvious confidence and that wonderful voice deserve a second airing. One would hope that there is a little more to get ones teeth into for his next outing.
The full track-listing for ‘At Least for Now’ is as follows…