Ben Poole always delivers when he plays his guitar. Now we have a complete package the real deal the album percolates the blues but never dictated by the Blues. He sings Anytime You Need Me and this is an album that hits the music-driven sweet spot. Ben has let his vocals be heard and mixes up the moods, tempos and influences across the genres. He knows what he wants to say and says it loud and clear with a freedom of approach making this an album available anytime I please. It is blind to the marketing rules that an album should be pop or rock blues or Americana he lets the lyrics create the feel of the tones and textures. Ben Poole is becoming part of the growing phalanx or free thinking musicians creating art and adopting the genre agnostic approach. Determined to make the sound right for the lyrics not forcing lyrics into a specified shoe box that can be too large, small or filled with clutter when simplicity is the perfect style solution.
Opening with the title track Anytime You Need Me, you are immediately assaulted with a confident self-assured artist that is the mature Ben Poole. The balance between his stellar guitar playing and vocals are spot-on. This is a song that is enriching full of enthused positivity. The guitar breaks are majestic a common theme found from the first to the last track. You are now in the zone, ready for the next twist in the journey the album will be taking you. Opening with one of the last songs written in a new partnership is followed by the first written back in 2017 when the collaboration was new. Deep rhythmic sharp tempo from the combination of Wayne Proctor’s stinging drums and Beau Barnard’s crafted bass lines. Now we are excited the lyrics have a clear messages it is the instrumentation that makes this track sting, the mix of fuzzy guitar and riffs that are clarion calls of six-string delight. We have had uplifting, edgy riffs so what will complete the opening tri of songs? We turn to melodic, toe tapping music that will get people on their feet and dancing we are now listening to the impish Ben, with a tune that is pop infused and would have been brilliant on Top of The Pops and real hit making track.
Follow that… we now meet Mr ‘Thoughtful’ Ben Poole, as the pass slows with a rhythmic flow, its stripped back guitar and rhythms let the vocals take prime position. The structure reflects the lyrics and how you often feel lost, memories have dimmed and you have Found Out The Hard Way. Life can be a bitter pill to swallow at times. This track stops on the brink of becoming mono tonal, with an uplifting change in chords for the chorus you see that there is light at the end of this musical trip. We want more of Ben’s guitar. Further On Down The Line delivers with a stinging opening overlaid with more of the stylish keyboard from Ross Stanley. The rhythm once again is tight and has a feel of familiarity while being new. We have stepped back partly into the 70’s with the fuzzy guitar but it is so much more than a nostalgic retro. There is a rawness, urgency that is contemporary as we go Further On Down The Line.
Now half way through and we have two covers back to back. The first is Dirty Laundry. Wow what a version of the Don Healy classic. This song has been re-arranged and suits Ben’s vocal range and still true to the original. The Backing vocals contrast with Ben’s vocals and the guitar adds a layer of tonal pleasure. The keys pump out the rhythm and we are exploring Ben Poole’s Dirty Laundry! You can hear the fun they had creating this track the guitar solos are epic and the video a visual delight. Now we are off to Start The Car a Jude Cole hit for the 1980’s. This number fits perfectly into the tonal mix of the album with strong keys, vocals and guitar. Do not expect it to sound like a step back in time number. Start The Car has been given a make-over and now is a blues rock tempo with an inner simplicity and example of less is so often more.
Now we have the final three songs and you know that the quality that Ben and his studio band have created that we know with certainty this is an album that will deliver as Ben sings Anytime You Need Me.
The tone changes with a Steve Wright number Don’t Cry For Me. This is a song that allows the musician to express his emotions through the melody. The harmonics are stunning, your ear bends to pick up every nuance, the shaping of the guitar, the drumming gentle yet assertive to give Ben’s guitar the perfect backdrop. Now we go into a different room of sonics with a heavier guitar number. The sound is denser there is a darker side of everyone and this track shows this with assertive tones and as he says Let Me Be. The tones reflect the lyrics about the person you will never agree with and just have to agree to disagree with them. The instrumentation picks up this difficult conundrum of emotions whilst retaining the glue that holds the album together with the combination of melodic instrumentation overlaid by the guitar that packs a stinging punch under Ben’s control. Closing out the album with Holding On, the listener is holding on to every note willing the album not to finish. A heavy statement track, with anthemic riffs and clever licks. You hear a band that is full of confidence and leaves you with a track that lingers as you hold on to the feeling of warmth the album fills you.
Ten tracks including two covers have been shaped and formed into an opus that works perfectly from the first to the last track. Listen to the album as it has been created a few times before playing on shuffle. This way you get the depth of feeling and the continuum of shapes and harmonies that create a dialogue of tones and textures that make perfect sense to the listening ear. Anytime You Need Me is an album that you will return to again and again, pick a favourite no way with every listen depending on your mood a new strong favourite will emerge.
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me – Manhaton Records
- Anytime You Need Me
- Take It No More
- You Could Say
- Found Out The Hard Way
- Further On Down The Line
- Dirty Laundry
- Start The Car
- Don’t Cry For Me
- Let Me Be
- Holding On
All songs written by Ben Poole, Wayne Proctor & Steve Wright except:
Dirty Laundry (Don Henley / Danny Kortchmar)
Start The Car (Jude Anthony Cole)
Don’t Cry For Me (Steve Wright
Guitars, Vocals: Ben Poole
Drums: Wayne Proctor
Bass: Beau Barnard
Hammond, Wurlitzer, Piano, Synth: Ross Stanley
Backing Vocals: Ben Poole
Produced by Wayne Proctor, A House Of Tone Production
Recorded at Superfly Studios, Ollerton, Nottinghamshire
Engineered by Andy Banfield
Mixed at Y Dream Studios, Corwen, North Wales
Mastered by Jon Astley at Close To The Edge Mastering, London