Stop Saying You Don't Listen to Country Music and Start Listening to Ben Leece
With the recent release of Villains, the brilliantly open and beautiful new single from Ben Leece, Spencer Scott dives deep into why you should give country and chance and just what makes Leece such a special artist.
It took a little while for me to come around to Country music. I’m definitely guilty of throwing the phrase “I listen to everything except rap and country” around in high school. Of course, once I finally delved into it; I kicked myself for not discovering it soon.
I love the sound of a pedal steel guitar and how they pair melodies with the timbre of a voice. There’s a melancholy that runs through so many songs, the same feeling drew me to Emo music. Not only that, but it helped me re-listen to old artists in a new light; how could I not notice how often Frank Turner, Jen Buxton,and Cory Branan borrow from Country music?
Raised on Kamilaroi country in the North West of NSW, Leece has been walking the boards of Newcastle for several years now; from playing guitar in the underrated and short-lived Hazards, to fronting The Delta Lions. When these bands called last drinks, Ben shot out on his own; performing and recording music under his own name.
That’s what makes Ben Leece’s music so great; years of sweating it out on different stages, discovering new music along the way. There’s a clear comparison to an artist like Jason Isbell here, but under the surface The Replacements, Fugazi, and Sam Cooke are bubbling away.
Leece’s solo output is still in its infancy, but adheres to the rule of quality of quantity. ‘Trace’, the b-side to his debut 7” Hank Vol. 1, was one of my favourite songs of 2017; a sombre and aching ballad, with an almighty guest vocal from Tori Forsyth.
The new song ‘Villains’ takes it one step further. Working with producer (and Australian Country stalwart) Shane Nicholson, Leece steps into full band arrangements with ease. Taking his soulful alt-country stylings and wrapping them up in lush production.
Like most Ben Leece songs, the star of the show is his vocals; intimate and powerful at the same time. But the instrumentation on this track is what sets it apart from the rest.
It’s an all star cast; Katie Brianna adds a powerful vocal in the chorus, Jason Walker makes the Pedal Steel sing, while Shane Nicholson and Pete Drummond wrap some muscle around the backbone of Leece’s songwriting.
‘Villains’ is the first track release from Ben Leece’s upcoming debut album. If this song is any indication of what we can expect, then we are awaiting something really special.