I don’t think I’ve ever waited for an album with such anticipation. I’ve been hooked on just about everything Ben Cooper has released since my brother first showed me Electric President’s self-titled album about 6 years ago. Once again Ben continues to impress with his much darker sophomore album The Family Tree: The Roots under Radical Face, one of his many monikers.
Ben Cooper’s ability to tell stories through song has been nothing short of amazing. The Roots is no exception to this. Each song in this album tells us a different story about a set of fictional characters that Ben has created for his daunting three cd project; The Family Tree. The characters in The Roots lay down the beginning of a fictional Family Tree that will continue to expand as Ben’s project progresses.
The Roots is based in the 1800’s and creating an album that had an aged feel was important to Ben. To do this Ben made use of instruments that would have been available at the time such as piano, simple drums, acoustic guitar, and strings. Don’t be taken back by this. Ben’s great use of layering creates a very full sound and you will quickly find yourself sucked into his make belief story.
Each song tugs at your heart in different ways. “A Pound of Flesh” is a story about a man travelling home after he has killed the man who murdered his brother, while “Ghost Towns” is about a weary traveller who can never go home and misses his lover. To give an idea of the incredible amount of detail Ben puts into his work, each song has an entire back story written to it, which Ben plans on making available to the public soon.
The Roots plants Ben firm amongst some big acts this year namely, (Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver just to name a few). To keep back this weary competition though, Cooper puts his thick burley beard, and true to form plaid wardrobe to the test as he single handedly passes through song to song in a solid performance of true solo material the warmth and embrace of The Family Tree is much too hard to settle down to. It doesn’t take long to get lost in the album, and with a stream of delicate specimens laying down a path of serenity for Mr. Cooper, we can’t help but be mesmerized.
I’ve never been disappointed by any album Ben has released and this is true to this day. The Family Tree: The Roots is a must listen and I would highly recommend it to any fans of folk music or fans of great stories.