If you’ve ever been on Ear To The Ground’s site before, you’ve probably heard Greg or I blathering on about Ben Abraham. Whether we were posting on of his phenomenal covers or acoustic originals, we could and can not get enough of him. His deceptively simple songs play host to some of the most beautifully intricate verses and music I’ve heard in a long time. He’s a singer-songwriter with no emphasis on either part because he excels at both. If you have followed him and you were worried that this album would be full of silly love songs and covers, prepare to be blown away by what Sirens has to offer you.
The 13 tracks on this album are a direct reflection of Abraham’s growth as a musician and his natural talent. His voice is as pure as any I’ve ever heard and his musicianship and craftsmanship grows with each day. From the opening sounds of “Sirens” to the closing chords of “A Quiet Prayer,” the depth of the album is what sticks with me the most. Many of his songs, including “She,” “I Belong to You,” and “When You Love Someone,” have been on YouTube for some time, but these new versions are perhaps the primary indicator of his growth as a musician. There are hints of artists like James Taylor and Jason Mraz (and an actual appearance by Sara Bareilles), but the album is wholely a unique and strong entry for a new artist.
The album starts off with a couple stellar, if somewhat more traditional love songs. “I Belong To You” is one of my favorite love songs and it has been since I first heard it. It’s a love song to a woman unmet. “If I only knew the song that I’m supposed to sing,/ To bring you from the days to come and sit you next to me,/ I would sing it loud and strong and, with nothing more to do,/ Cause, baby, I belong to you.” It’s that kind of simple lyricism that makes this album special. “She,” the second track, is a song that lists characteristics, some of which are sweet and some of which are simply honest (“She’s a brick wall”), but all of which serve to paint a complete and endearing picture of a woman deeply loved.
“Collide,” one of my personal favorites from the album, is more of a hopelessly romantic song, one that starts with the line “It wasn’t meant to be like this.” But it has one of the year’s best lines in it: “Close my eyes and, like a satellite,/ I’ll throw myself at gravity and hope that we collide.” Randy Newman seemed to have had a little inspirational credit on the original version of “To Love Someone,” but this new version eschews the simple piano for horns and more of a focus on the vocals. It’s a nice touch, though it seems to be missing the piano from the original. It would be nice to see them both included, though that could be said about each song rerecorded here.
Sara Bareilles, who sang with Abraham when she toured in his native Australia, appears on “This is on Me,” a song about the end of a relationship and one that’s perfect as a duet. When you put two of the world’s best vocalists together, it’s magic and this song is no exception. The harmonies are absolutely flawless. “Speak,” the first single from Sirens, is a much more full, almost rock song. It’s a commentary on communication in love or the lack thereof. It’s a stellar track that makes itself stand out amongst many other great songs.
The two final tracks are the icing on the cake. “Songbird,” a song Abraham released on YouTube years ago, has been given the polish and layering it deserves and has become, perhaps, the standout track from the album. It’s the kind of song that you’d play for your daughter or son, one that claims “You’re a songbird and we ain’t seen nothing.” The final track, “A Quiet Prayer,” has a James Taylor fingerpicking sound to it. Mellow and smooth is the perfect way to end a nearly perfect album. From top to bottom, this album is everything I hoped it would be and then a little more. When Abraham finally sings “That you love me and I need you,” you’ll probably do what I did and simply start it over again.