One of the most underrated singers and composers around, Dutch artist Benny Sings releases his new album “City Pop” on Stones Throw Records. Ever since his 2005 album “I Love You”, featuring the immortal “Make A Rainbow” which has become one of my alltime favorite pieces, Benny Sings has consistently delivered little album gems over the years, almost unnoticed and undeservedly so (the album also features more pop anthems like “Little Donna” and “Me And My Guitar”).
The eleven little pop ditties, all between two and three and a half minutes in length, are far superior than most of the stuff which has come out over the past year or so. It also reflects my disappointment of too many mediocre releases in 2018. But help is on the way: with pieces like “Duplicate”, which features Mocky, the world is a much better place. The 80s sounding synth and drum computer sounds, together with an amazingly catchy hook and swell production work, are part of those unique elements that describe Benny Sings’ work. And of course his timeless vocals, both pretty unagitated and soothing in a one-of-a-kind way. Some cuts echo Hall & Oates (“Late At Night”) with a scintillatingly soulful approach, some vocals remind me of some of Herbie Hancock’s vocoder cuts from the mid- and late seventies.
Vocal arrangements play a vital role again on his latest album, as exemplified on “Summerlude” with its sensuous backing vocals (the track is almost instrumental) and great percussive, jazzy backdrop which turns out to be amazingly stunning. Vinyl scratches underline the melancholy “So Far So Good” with its abrupt ending. “Dreamin'” is one of those timeless love songs with a consistently positive stance and vibe (and yes, magic background vocals again) and simply a lot of fun to listen to, reminding me that spring is around the corner.
“Softly” is one of those typical, lo-fi Benny Sings tunes; easily identifiable, harking back to the glorious days of potent and effective, actual songs. Listen to the album opener “Everything I Know” and you can already catch the epitome of his artistry: the combination of his poignant vocals with the ultra strong songwriting describing both love lost and love found, is something that is much too rare these days (most acts simply push too hard in one way or the other, here everything just falls into place). Fleetwood Mac say hello on “Familiar” and first single “Not Enough” is so pure and memorable that we just actually can’t get enough. The quirky synths on the quasi-instrumental “Nakameguro” (featuring Faberyayo) only add to the overall excitement here.
Benny Sings plays in his hometown Amsterdam (April 11th, Bitterzoet), London (April 16th, Moth Club), and Paris (April 18th, Badaboum). More dates to be announced.