The third album from Ben Kunder is one that matches if not surpasses some of his most recent acclaimed work.
Release Date: 29th May 2020 (Postponed until 2nd October 2020)
Label: Comino Music
Formats: CD / LP / Digital
The name Ben Kunder is new to me, and I don’t quite understand why. Searching For The Stranger is his third album and follows 2015’s Golden and 2018’s highly praised Better Human, and, if both of those albums come anywhere close to Searching for the Stranger, then I can’t believe that I missed them!
For those still yet to be initiated, a few words of introduction… Ben Kunder is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter and sometime actor. He writes powerful, melodic songs and delivers them using a voice that flexes effortlessly from gravel to choirboy, via a full spectrum of mellowness, as the songs on this latest album attest.
The musical styles he attaches to his often enigmatic, always evocative, lyrics are as varied as his vocal delivery styles. Searching For The Stranger also includes adept presentations of electronica, Byrds-style jangly rock, ‘80’s big keyboard stylings and even a Crosby, Stills and Nash soundalike – in all, quite a lot to sit back, enjoy and dream along to.
The album opens with Berlin, the first single and, perhaps, its strongest track. Keyboard and guitar blend together behind a clear vocal and a lyric describing the joy, uncertainty and confusion arising from the sudden freedom offered by the reunited Berlin. Close your eyes and take a wander through the Brandenburg Gate and along Unter Den Linden. Berlin is followed by the album’s second single, Stranger, another strong track which, with its dominant jangly guitar backing successfully provides the missing link between Turn, Turn, Turn and I Am The Resurrection.
Ghost, a co-composition with Maia Davies, is a piano ballad with some tasteful harmonised vocals and Year is a soft ballad with acoustic guitar and nice keyboard string effects. Lunenburg is another piano ballad, an alluring tale of a musician down on his luck and Seul is an acoustic guitar/keyboard piece that tells an enigmatic story, apparently about a hospital visit from a clinging lover. The lyrics give little away and successfully leave the listener wanting to know more. All are lovely songs, well produced and exquisitely delivered.
Close your eyes, and Colours could easily fool you that you are listening to one of David Crosby’s more obscure contributions to the Crosby, Stills and Nash canon – it even invites you to “Cut off all your hair!” The song is a true, if unintentional (?) tribute to the great Croz…
Searching For The Stranger is co-produced by Ben and Aaron Goldstein and, along with Ben and Aaron, features Chris Stringer on guitar, bass, keyboards and pedals, Carleigh Aikins on backing vocals, Joshua Van Tassel and Loel Campbell on Drums and Andy Carone on assorted keyboards.
Listen to Berlin here: