I often hear people posing the question of how you can take the singer-songwriter, one voice, one guitar format and update it for the modern musical audience? My response is why should you have to? Not only is there an “if it ain’t broke…” attitude driving my response, are you really trying to tell us that all the stories which suit this format have now been told? That the style that worked for Bob and Joni is no longer appropriate? Of course not. The art of it is, as with most things, not to try to change the format but just be yourself within it. And even though Ben Brookes is clearly following a tradition which has served us so well for so long, he also very much sounds like…well, Ben Brookes.
But the real killer here, the full stop at the end of the argument, is that Integration… is very much his own song and his own sound, it stands out from the pack, a pack normally comprised of plagiarists probably in a wide-brimmed hat and with designer rips in their black, skinny jeans. Ben however takes his own musical road, one filled with a great combination of 60’s coffee shop folk and modern indie-pop vibes, one which tips its proverbial rather than actual hat to past pioneers whilst embracing where that format can go next. And on the sound of this song, where it goes next is an emotive, less is more, place filled with integrity, intelligence and most of all great song writing. Count me along for the ride.