Ben Bedford – Land of Shadows
To me there’s something special about a songwriter who in a few words paints pictures of unbelievable depth and clarity. Ben Bedford to me is something special! I just discovered Ben’s music last week. Looking through the music charts I saw his 2009 release Land of Shadows at number 21 on the FAR Chart and number 9 on the Euro-Americana Chart. So I went to Rhapsody and download the album on to the mp3 player and have been listening since and each time I listen I like the album more and more. Land of Shadows is Bedford’s second release following his 2008 release Lincoln’s Man. Here’s what some folks are saying about Ben’s music:
“Anyone wondering what in the world happened to folk music would do well to listen to Ben Bedford. He looks like a young Townes Van Zandt, and his sound is rooted in things good and real. I believe he means every word he sings.”
–Peter Cooper, singer/songwriter, journalist
“Land of the Shadows is one great album from start to finish, chock-full
of stunning songs and fine performances. The opening song – Twenty One – was selected as one of our favourite tracks of 2009. A powerful anti-war anthem. We await Ben’s British visit with keen anticipation.” -Iain Anderson and Stewart Cruickshank, BBC Radio-Scotland.
Land of Shadows opens with the previously mentioned “Twenty One”. The story of a young Union soldier from Illinois, who now is outside of Vicksburg, cringing each time he sees the effect of union artillery on white clapboard houses like his and praying that John Pemberton will soon surrender. The album closes with another poignant song Civil War song “Fisher’s Hill” and in between the album is filled with moving songs about real folks with real problems. The songwriting reflects Bedford’s interest in history. In 2000 Bedford entered the University of Illinois with intentions of becoming a history professor and he did finish his degree but got sidetracked with music and I for one am glad he did. Along with the Civil War songs, the album includes two songs about life and death in the mines “The Cherry Mine” which chronicles the Great Cherry Coal Mine disaster of 1909.(you can read about it here ). and “Mother Jones On The Line”. Anyone who evokes the name of Mother Jones is ok in my book! The album also has a great song “Amelia” about the great aviatrix. Two other (let see are we up to talking about all eleven tracks yet) the title track “Land of Shadows” and “The Sagamon” are two songs were I think Bedford’s songwriting particularly shines. In “The Sagamon” Bedford displays great songwriting talent as he paints a vivid picture of the death of a pregnant wife. It’s probably my favorite song on the album!
After listening to Land of Shadows I went back and listened to the first album Lincoln’s Man which on first listen also appears to be a great album. I need a few more listens before I can say which are my favorite songs, although I do know that I love the title track, which obviously is another Civil War song.
So if you don’t know Ben’s music check him out and if you do I know you’re eagerly waiting for his next release!
Here is a video of Ben performing the last song on the album “Fisher’s Hill”