The title of Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s new album After the Rain seems to reflect a sense of regeneration and regrowth that reverberates through the thirteen tracks; if the rain is darkness, his music is light.
After an apparent musical drought, Leftwich has returned with a deluge of songs that seem to grow out of the earth; entwining with the wind and sea. It has been five years since the release of his debut album Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm and a period of deep personal growth ensued for Leftwich between these albums, that he opened up about in February this year.
In 2013 he found himself broken by his father’s death. So cruelly and unfairly taken by cancer, Leftwich explained how he was only able to find some kind of solace in his music. Sometimes not even that. Although he talks about the ‘sadness and madness’ that surrounds the surreality of trying to deal with death, the album has an ethereal quality and calmness that perhaps looks to appease the turbulent emotions that are associated with death. One cannot deny an underlying sense of melancholy may be felt throughout, but it is not a melancholy that looks helplessly for sympathy. Instead, it is a kind of melancholy that conceivably comforts itself through the melodic guitar, soft drums and his gentle hushing vocals.
Perhaps the rain of the title is the passing through turbulent emotions and reaching acceptance; a rain that although initially causes misery and dampness, may lead to the growth of creativity; the dry earth may flourish green once more. His music takes the ugly emotions he may have felt and allows them to become beautiful, that through his sounds we may understand that despite death, life must really go on.
Leftwich seems eternally bound to nature, his voice at one with the air and although there is a kind of monotony to his vocals, there is a frank honesty to his lyrics that leaves an impression not only on the ears but also the heart. It is non-egotistical, non-assuming. It is not in your face; he does not force himself to be heard but instead allows you to time and space to absorb the mastery of his own sound.
The heartache that Benjamin Francis Leftwich endured is buried beneath the sweetness of his songs, and the knowledge of his suffering adds a complexity and depth to the listener experience.