A debut album with all the makings of a classic.
Music and songwriting have long been a passion for Isle of Wight-born Ben Stubbs. Since his first single release in 2013, Stubbs has played extensively and released several works on various listening platforms.
‘Light of My Life‘, however, is his debut album and, dedicated to his long-term partner, is stunningly crafted with all the makings of a classic. Throughout the album, Stubbs’ performance exudes a calm confidence making the listener feel secure and at home. His writing and musicality demonstrate great thought and wisdom analysing human relationships and social situations, whilst the overall production is infinitely soothing.
Stubbs cites various influences one of which, Paul Simon, certainly comes through in, among others, the opening song ‘Stop the World‘. It is a nicely paced, beautifully played song. And, with the chorus pleading “Can we stop the world I’m getting off, jump this train and go get lost, we can live our lives unafraid of time, so stop the world I’m getting off” it has a sentiment relevant to many.
Another powerful sentiment continues through ‘Live and Let Live‘ where the vocals, and backing vocals, are simply terrific. The song is musically full, with some catchy hook lines and a nice electric guitar break. ‘Social Media State‘ is insightful and again has a catchy chorus and some good hook lines whilst denigrating social media, reality TV, and killer viruses. All commendable from a factual point of view but it would perhaps be a refreshing change to have a song that sees the positives in the world. More difficult to write, without a doubt, but may just help turn the corner on some of the doom and gloom.
‘Light of My Life‘, the title song of the album, begins subtly with piano and acoustic guitar building gracefully with the addition of further instrumentation. If it wasn’t for the fact we know it is dedicated to Stubbs’ partner, this song could easily be about a child, such is the sweet delicateness of the lyrics. A lovely song. Mellow and wholesome. ‘Perpetual War‘ is dynamic and commanding. A clever, honest, song describing an argumentative relationship constantly on the brink of breakdown. The line “The table is set, for a night to forget” sums up the unedifying, sad situation.
‘Cocoon‘ is a highlight and has to be a first for including bubble wrap in the lyrics. Not to be put off by that, the lyrics are passionate and heartfelt and Stubbs sings with great warmth. After an uplifting electric guitar solo in the middle, a sublime female vocal takes the lead before the pair beautifully duet together. A gorgeous melody and subtle harmony line underpin this lovely song. It is completely different, but has a similar vibe, beauty, and innocence to the soundtrack from the movie ‘Once‘ with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Fabulous.
‘Driving in the Dark‘ is a bolder, pacier song with a powerful chorus and lots of get up and go. Again the vocals and harmonies are wonderful. Some of the lyrics and feel of the song are reminiscent of World Party and Put the Message in the Box. Interesting and catchy.
Without knowing if it is autobiographical or not, ‘Raised by Man‘ is an open, honest account of a disturbing upbringing. It would be sufficiently menacing with its jazz tempo, Jools-style piano playing, and intelligent lyrics “I was born into a battle between two fragile people”. But, Stubbs’ secure vocal across the range from bass through baritone to tenor add a further, magnificent weight and depth to the menace.
The penultimate song, ‘Your Life is OK‘ is bright and accomplished before ‘Forgetting Paradise‘ levels out the tone with pristine guitar and vocal performances throughout this moving song. “You Don’t have to know where you’re going, you don’t have to know where to start, when there’s ten thousand miles between you and the place that heals your heart“.
It seems Stubbs knows exactly where he is going and hopefully it involves a UK tour.