Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm

Benjamin Francis Leftwich has made us wait for this, his debut album, Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm. The wait was worth it. This 10 track disk of songsmith-ery is a whispery, tender joy. His lyrics are poetry, perfectly weighted, not a word wasted. His guitar, honey on the palate. The overall feel is as gentle and undeniably permeating as the smoke in the title.

‘Atlas Hands’ and ‘Pictures’ give us a dose of the familiar; the tracks new to the album give you the sense of meeting a friend’s friends and knowing that you are all going to get along just fine.

Real highlights of this debut include ‘Butterfly Culture’, a song so gentle, by law, it should be played to all newborn babes to welcome them into this world. ‘Snowship’, a favourite of mine from his performance at the Jericho Tavern, is a word to the wise about the trips, traps and pitfalls faced by the young on their quest into adulthood; “be careful what you wish for when you’re young” he gently croons, a sentiment that you feel has resonance within the songwriter himself. ‘Box Of Stones’, the first single from this album, is an exquisitely touching song to a lover. Strings dance around the melody and lull the listener into picturing the story behind the lyrics. A curious thing that young Ben is getting very good at.

‘Don’t Go Slow’, Last Smoke‘s closing track, is a beautiful four minutes of transportation that weaves a tale of a man and a woman, deeply and passionately involved in the moment.

The album’s title track is a (somewhat) full band affair, a departure from the man-and-his-guitar routine that Leftwich does so well. Subtle drums and a drifting violin are warm accompaniments to Leftwich’s constantly pleasing vocals and finger-picking.

Listening to this album, one can only conclude that it is extremely well produced. That is not to say that the production is obvious, no hint of autotune or studio-addled instrumentation, simply that the careful blend of the textures of sound come to deliver a weave so delicate, you may as well be listening to silk.



Released on 20th June 2011 by Dirty Hit

One thought on “Benjamin Francis Leftwich – Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm”

  1. JackOlchawski

    Great review Matt! This is an office favourite – beautiful stuff.