Ben Reel is an Irish artist who has been in the business for over 20 years, this being his eighth studio album release. This is a homegrown affair having been recorded and produced in his home studio in South Armagh with Reel having written or co-written all twelve tracks. There is a theme to the album which is one of redemption and understanding which is demonstrated no better than on ‘Fish Out Of Water,’ a haunting track written from the perspective of an exiled immigrant seeking a new life with all the terrors of the journey on show and the many daunting problems at the other end of the journey throwing up the unfamiliar. Featuring a moody organ and drumbeat mimicking guns it is a top quality track highlighting one of the burning subjects of the day.
The theme is developed in ‘Healing Hands’ which is ostensibly a love song but has the telling opening line “I remember you had flowers in your hair when I came home from the war” with ‘Some Mercy’ sending the reminder that people are the same the whole world over in seeking love and understanding. Again a sentiment that is only too necessary to reiterate in these times. Reel also demonstrates the art of simple songwriting about self in the opening track ‘Landscapes’ which has a dreamy feel referring to lands of escape and of beautiful landscapes glimpsed in dreams. The track appears to feature panpipes or similar which adds to the evocation of flying and with ‘Fields Of Dreams’ there is a Springsteenesque harmonica which firmly plants the listener in a time and place.
This is essentially a folk album with a hint of jazz thrown in and is very much an album of its time dealing very cleverly and intelligently with the issues of the day in the style of the 1960’s folk movement.