Review by Shannon Shumaker
Benjamin Scheuer’s new release, Songs From The Lion is crisp, beautiful and most of all, human. The storytelling on this album is something that most could only find in a book, but Scheuer is incredible at immersing you in his world and making you feel like you know him and all of the stories he tells on the album. Coupled with stunning guitar work and a theatrical sound, it almost feels like you’re watching a movie, rather than listening to a beautiful, fifteen track album.
Opening things up is “Cookie Tin Banjo” which really sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s simplistic yet beautifully poetic and tells of Scheuer’s love for his father and the music that connects them. It’s easy to get lost in his words as he builds the relationship between himself and his father. The second song, “Weather The Storm” is even stronger. A little more general, this fuller sounding song is easy for listeners to connect with, hitting home with the message of overcoming hardships and the line, “Every heart is made stronger by scars.” Not only is the song strong lyrically, but the range in the vocal work is incredible as well - the lows very full and deep and the highs bright and beautiful.
“The Lion” breaks our hearts, telling of the loss off Scheuer’s father, and the way he took on the leader of his family in the aftermath. After the intimate and personal opening track, “The Lion” really hits hard, but it doesn’t speak of the loss or the new role in his family in a negative light, but more so hopeful and proud. The moral of the song and the story behind the entire album is that “It’s not the roar that makes the lion, it’s the pride.” Within just a few songs, it’s easy to feel as if you know Benjamin Scheuer and his story - the poetic storytelling and imagery easily paints a picture for you.
Another emotional track is “Cure,” which tells about the fears and struggles of battling cancer. Lyrically, the song is very powerful, but the additional background noises, dripping water and machines really add to the mood of the simplistic song and immerse you in the world. With this song and the following, “White Underwear,” the simple effects and instrumentation does an incredible job of setting the mood. “White Underwear” takes on a more intense and stressful sound, the vocal effects and dissonant guitar changing the mood completely.
Throughout the album, each song feels like a different chapter in Benjamin Scheuer’s life, weaving together easily with beautiful storytelling and stunning guitar work. The only track that doesn’t really fit in with the rest is “Saint Rick,” which feels very heavy and industrial compared to the beautiful acoustic “Build a Bridge.” While the difference in sound is likely to tell a story, it just doesn’t flow as well as the rest of Songs From The Lion. However, “When We Get Big,” “Laugh” and “Lovin’ You Will be Easy” are three very lighthearted songs, which are much needed after some of the heavier themes early on the album. Not only that, but they flow very well together.
Then, “Dear Dad,” provides some closer at the end of the album before the hopeful, “Three Little Cubs.” The recurring theme of Lions and the closeness of the family is something that weaves throughout the album and really makes it feel connected, and “Three Little Cubs” serves as the perfect closing track. If folk and storytelling is not your thing, then Songs From The Lion will not resonate with you, but if you’re looking for an emotional journey and a story to go along with it, this album will satisfy you and then some. Benjamin Scheuer is incredible at painting a picture to immerse you in his world and his story, and Songs From The Lion is a journey from start to finish.
Listen to "The Lion"
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