Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin
This is an album packed with some real heavy hitters. Young singer/songwriter Ben Brookes has recruited some of the most respected musicians and sidemen in rock’s long history with former Bob Dylan keyboardist Greg Inhofer, one time Prince drummer Michael Bland, and Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland. They’ve contributed much to the realization of Ben Brookes’ The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon but, ultimately, Brookes’ exceptional vocals and songwriting are the primary culprits behind the excellence of this ten song collection. This Portsmouth, UK native began writing and performing his own songs at the age of eleven and each of the ten cuts included on The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon testify to the obvious commitment he’s made towards honing his chosen craft, as well as the influences fueling its creation. There are obvious nods to both The Beatles and Pink Floyd but, in the end, Brookes’ collection stands on its own and never risks imitation.
“I Wanna Go Home” opens the album on a distinctly creative note. There’s a jangling quality that Brookes and his collaborators bring to bear during an assortment of passages while other sections are much more reliant on firm drumming and flourishes of fiery guitar. The organ thrown into the mix adds further color without ever sounding out of place and Brookes’ vocals achieve a great balance between a storytelling stance and a more emphatic, straight ahead rock style. The second track “Integration (Not Segregation)” is a particularly memorable number for how it brings together Brookes’ melodic gifts with a near symphonic grandeur, but there’s more. Brookes frequently makes use of ambient sound effects and even intersperses spoken word passages from various sources, including former American President John F. Kennedy. Acoustic guitar and some light keyboard contributions power the opening of “Asleep in Galilee” and the drumming takes it off into a stately march with just the right amount of propulsive force. The addition of some slide guitar in the song continues a recurring trend towards a gritty, rootsy sound on the release.