Ben Glover “Sweet Wild Lily” (Proper, 2020)

In recent years, Glover, originally from the village of Glenarm, County Antrim in Northern Ireland, has been building a strong reputation both as a singer and songwriter in his own right, and as a valued collaborator with artists including Mary Gauthier, who he supported on tour in the UK in 2018, and Gretchen Peters, and two of his co-writes with Peters make their way to the EP.

The EP is a result of an urge to make good use of time gained when touring dates were cancelled due to the pandemic – Glover found himself writing new songs, and also revisiting some older and un-recorded songs.

Glover was in Nashville, where he is currently based, for the duration of lockdown, recording the EP in the Skinny Elephant studio in Nashville, alongside resident engineer Dylan Alldredge.

The Nashville sound is more evident on ‘Sweet Wild Lily’, than on recent releases, but an equally important part of the arrangements of the songs is the tasteful electric guitar, recorded in Belfast by his long-term collaborator Colm McLean, his sweet lick a perfect introduction to the title track, a solo composition and a gentle reflection on a wild spirit, trying to find her way, as he sings “My sweet wild Lily, I see you floating by/between the waves dancing and the deep drifting sky/come on home to yourself now Lily/you’ve been gone a while”.

‘Arguing with Ghosts’, co-written with Gretchen Peters and Matraca Berg, featured on Peters’ 2018 album ‘Dancing with Ghosts’, here Glovers’ version, a duet with Kim Richey, finds his voice taking a husky tone, well suited to the reflection on how the familiar can turn against you, taunting you with your failures, like ghosts. The melancholy arrangement features spooky keys low down in the mix, and summons up perfectly the disappointments of a small life in a small town.

The second co-write with Gretchen Peters is ‘Broke Down’, a mid-tempo song with a brighter feel, written in 2013, but recorded here for the first time, Glover commenting that it was a song that he’d wrestled with before in the studio, finally nailing it for the EP. A classic story song, telling of the moment the penny drops and the singer knows its over, returning home and “Turned the front door key and heard the back door slam”.

EP closer ‘Fireflies Dancing’ is the other solo write, inspired by a night on a front porch in Mississippi in July this year, recalling the atmosphere and sense of freedom that Glover felt, in contrast to the restrictions of this year, “There’s a place where the mountain meets the sea/that’s where my soul knows how to be free”. A fitting and positive reflection on how there is a better place, beyond our current travails.

A fine collection of songs, further cementing Glovers reputation as a very fine writer and performer.

Glover finds Nashville sound in fine lockdown EP collection
8/10
8/10

About David Jarman 50 Articles
Long time fan of Americana genre, from early days of Ry Cooder, through to today's thriving scene. Regular visitor to USA ( Nashville/Austin/Memphis/LA ) live music junkie, I play guitar, mandolin, harmonica, plus vocals, run monthly jam session in Broadstairs

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