Ben: ‘Addicted To You’ Review – The Nostalgia You Need
The French Soul-singer, revives the genre to its purest form in recent offering. Flexing his charming vocal timbre through a confluence of black musical influences; to provide a soulful soundscape, that exhibits traces of his Gospel background while exploring hints of traditional R&B and HIp-Hop.
Ben formerly known as Ben L’Oncle Soul, the vocally dazzling, hugely entertaining artist from France, first graced stages as a vocalist in the Fitiavana Gospel choir. The ensemble made its album debut in 2009, with ‘I Have A Dream’ - comprised of a collection of renditions of English-language soul classics such as ‘Killing Me Softly’, ‘Lean On Me’ and more. Successively, Ben was offered a solo recording deal with the French division of Motown Recordings, resulting in the release of his 2009 EP ‘Soul Wash’. Following shortly after with his full-length debut album ‘Ben L’Oncle Soul’ which hit number five on the French album chart, landing him numerous nominations and awards including; Best Male Singer of the year at The Globes de Cristal and Live Breakthrough at the Victoires de la Musique. Since signing Ben has augmented over 750,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alone – with an audience predominately across his native land, Amsterdam and Sao Paulo.
Throughout this review, we'll break down the core musical elements of Ben's fourth album: 'Addicted To You'. That he delineates as an offering that sets forth an accumulation of influences of over the past 10 years.
When speaking of Soul music, typically we first think of the most unique and personal instrument of them all; the voice – it's fair to say that Ben's vocals are extremely potent. To be truthfully honest, your vocabulary could reach a total vanishing point when trying to describe it. However, there is some historicism here, a lot of the depth we hear stems from his years spent in the Fitiavana Gospel Choir, which he joined in 2004.
His melismatic approach to projecting his voice, is best shown in tracks like: 'I Love This Game' an offering that compares the course of love to sport. In addition to ‘The Best’ which conveys the significance of confidence in not only yourself but the ones we love; described by Ben as “the basis of all relationships.” both showcase Ben’s vocal prowess.
You can hear subtle alterations in his timber, in response to him adapting to differing atmospheric emotion– from scenes of sensuality, sorrow and longing - throughout this album. To achieve this, we hear him bouncing between speech and song, slightly extending the note at the end of a word at times (a method that does a great job in conveying his expression), whilst keeping his vocals controlled and with purpose at others. Evoking slight parts of black southern Gospel tradition (arguably a descendant of Soul) – A tradition that is known for a choir or singer constantly moving between something that also sounds like talking and singing. Often changing the timber of the voice to preach a message to a church.
Moving onto the R&B element, that can be heard within the vibe of each track, somewhat reminiscent of prolific R&B legend D'Angelo (who also shares a Gospel background). Although. we won't hear Ben influenced by D'Angelo's famous falsetto, we will hear similarities in the album's rich instrument heavy production. The track 'Addicted' a song coined as “the albums strongest melody” by Ben: is a good example of this, it’s use of sizzling hats and sultry guitar runs creates an interesting foreground for Ben to lay down his sweet harmonies. Along with the last minute of 'I Don't Wanna Go' - a track that displays a sense of betrayal and anger - supplying a invigorating electric guitar moment, accompanied by sweet piano riffs. Notwithstanding, the traditional components, Ben explores a synth lead backdrop in 'I Just Want You' a instaltion that acts as sexual decleration, serves a contemporary R&B feel that’s extremely favoured with in the genre today.
To conclude, 'Addicted to You' is a highly emotive body of work - courtesy of Ben's immaculate vocal expression teamed with his crews perfectly executed production along with some diverse collaborations. It journeys through a real-life turbulent portrayal of a love story, with highs and lows stippled throughout. To be pedantic, I would say although I feel the album supplies us with a wholesome experience due to of all the elements aforementioned; However personally, I would have enjoyed it that bit more if lyrically it was slightly more introspective. I also would have loved at least one of the songs to be acoustic, only because I know that it would sound be a great addition to the offering.
Nonetheless, this is definitely an album that will go down a treat with Soul or R&B fans, whether digested in full or taken apart to uplift your go to playlist. It seems that his audience are already lapping this up, as streams are hitting some pretty impressive heights, along with some tracks being sprinkled throughout some of Spotify's best Soul playlists, like 'Soul 'n' the City' which has garnered almost 300,000 likes.
I'd rate this album a 75/100!
Listen to Addicted To You below