Letters From The Border – Ben Osborn (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

Some album titles fit in with the topical subjects of the day and this one is no different, but aside from it being topical it’s also geographic because this sumptuous yet unassuming album was recorded in the summer of 2018 in a rural setting on the German/Polish border.

The album absorbs some of its surroundings with opening track ‘Chedvah’ (meaning ‘joy’ in Hebrew) featuring birdsong and the album continues with this feeling of open space but still managing to feel intimate and personal. What you’ll find within these ten tracks are pieces of music featuring spoken word rather than singing and poetry rather than lyrics, it will draw comparisons with Leonard Cohen but to describe this as just another Cohen rip-off would not only be unfair but also untrue.

Osborn’s ancestry is both Jewish and Eastern European so being on the German/Polish border will unearth emotions and thoughts that would undoubtedly find itself on the recording and there are moments of sadness but also moments of wonder throughout. The production is downplayed allowing the compositions of Osborn and violinist Alex Stolze to be clearly heard, there are subtle moments of piano and percussion, but the songs work on the back of the words and pictures they paint.

This isn’t a morose journey into the plight of the Jewish people (although final track ‘Psalm 22’ is a direct reference to the Bible and a Psalm that has long been believed refers to the plight of the Jewish people) but there is something beautiful in it’s presentation and there is a feeling throughout of positivity and progression, of time moving on and appreciation for those around us. ‘My Sister The Swimmer’ and ‘Bridge of Starlings’ has a more personal feel and, like most of the album, stays with you long after the record has stopped.

Pre-order the album HERE

 

 

 

 

 

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