Ben Poole

Time Has Come

(Manhaton Records)

It’s a competitive field out there in the bluesrock world, with some fine players, singers and songwriters. But if an act has a particular talent in the latter they stand every chance of making an impact. Mike Brookfield is a good example of someone avoiding clichés but using light and shade in their songs.

The previous album from Poole was live in London one but this time he has headed to the studio with new songs and team, including hotrod drummer and producer Wayne Proctor and though I have no personnel list it sure sounds like Mat Beable on bass. The aim, according to Ben, was to try for the rush of live performance mixed with the impact and craftsmanship of a professional studio sophistication. On hand to assist, other blues rock alumni such as Aynsley Lister, Henrik Freischlader and the great character Todd Sharpeville. Stevie Nimmo also sang on the record.

‘Lying To Me’ starts the programme with a confident punch and a Hammond-soaked rhythm track with funky guitar chords and it sounds like Jonny Lang with a softer voice. None the worse for that, Poole digs Lang and John Mayer. Killer drum sound.

‘I Think I Love You Too Much’ is a cool song and still for me belongs to the late Jeff Healey but this is a robust take on the number, biting guitar runs working well. Poole’s voice records well and has a warmth that helps the songs come over. Much of the material is based in romantic matters, good and bad, in time hopefully he’ll tell us some stories in his compositions; ‘Longing For A Woman’ is an acoustic-intro’d outing with a touch of Norwegian Wood in some of its passages; ‘If You Want To Play With My Heart’ has a lovely melody and easy-paced delivery. Maybe not what be expecting to hear, but that is what is cool about it. Beautifully sung, too.

‘Time Might Never Come’ takes us into mysterious sonic terrain, very subtle keyboard work and steady drums, a song full of space delivered sung in an almost conspiratorial manner, splayed chords on the guitar. A bit of a heart-melter for female followers, I suspect. A total success on every front.

‘Stay At Mine’ has a syncopated tempo and details an affair hotting up, clavinet chugging away and the guitar riffs rattle out. Another fine song. ‘You’ve Changed’ takes the semi-gospel route in its chordal sequence and feel, brilliant bass and keyboard arrangement. Seems to have an Al Green / Hi label flavour.

‘Just When You Thought It Was Safe’ has a purposeful tread and reflective lyric, soul-blues style. Vocal delivery just right and a catchy tune indeed; ‘Whoever Invented Love’ has another gorgeous melody, understated singing almost like vintage Rod Stewart and with a quite brilliant guitar solo that just lifts the song as it pumps along.

‘The Question Why’ closes the set in moody blues mode, a tinge of Cray in the construction and aching guitar.

There was I half expecting a shouty collection of songs with quasi-Gary Moore guitar strangling. What I discover is a set of bluesy, subtle songs played by top-notch musicians, some of whom I have known and supported for many years and here revelling in fine material. A winner of a release.

Pete Sargeant

Ben Poole

Ben Poole’s new studio album ‘Time Has Come’ is out now on Manhaton Records. In addition, Ben Poole will be touring in April/May 2016 with fellow label mate Stevie Nimmo. For tour dates and more information visit Ben Poole’s official website here:

(Feature Image by Stephen Fourie. Thanks to Peter Noble at Noble PR for help with the review)