Rising Dutch singer-songwriter – MICHAEL J. BENJAMIN – has unveiled his latest offering “The Same Again”, taken from a debut EP due this Autumn.
A radiant, reflective ballad that sees the young musician pair distinctive Cash-meets-Cohen vocals with his knack for heart-rending storytelling, the new track was produced by Jon McMullen (Wet Leg, Michael Kiwanuka) in London. A song that finds the singer-songwriter rewinding sepia-tinted memories of his past, and pausing for thought on what could have been, Michael J. Benjamin explains of “The Same Again”:
“A girl and I used to walk along these farms on the edge of town, then I left for London and when I came back we broke up. After that I used to come back to these seemingly holy farms to find inspiration and tranquillity; to catch a glimpse of light of the moon and relive old memories. Looking back now, it’s the act of not letting go of the past that drove me to write this song. The farms were like a sanctuary, or a relic of better times. Even today it remains a magical place to me.”
With its trickling acoustic guitars and a pared-back approach to instrumentation, “The Same Again” makes for a wistful country-blues record that feels simultaneously nostalgic and refreshing; true to a style that Benjamin is quickly making his own.
Staking his place as an auspicious new artist to watch, Michael J. Benjamin’s soul searching songs express a hard-won sense of authority: embracing the world with an engrossing, truth-seeking style of writing which belies his still-tender years.
Like most other millennials, he grew up with the entire history of music readily available at the click of a mouse. Growing up Michael embraced the heroes of old, immersing himself in the works of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash and Paul McCartney, before finding more modern realms of influence in the songbooks of Lana Del Rey, Weyes Blood and Jack Antonoff.
And while many of his musical favourites are American, Michael’s literary influences have a distinctly European flavour with Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud and Hugo all seeping into the way he looks at his art. His songs flourish in a self-made world of creeping dusk — ever-aware of the foreboding, Lynchian darkness which will inevitably follow.
Born in the South Netherlands but raised in Sweden until the age of 16 when his parents moved to Amsterdam, Michael J. Benjamin spent much of his late teens and early twenties travelling around the UK. Playing guitar, piano and harmonica in small venues all over Bristol, London and the Isle of Wight, Michael got his first big break in 2017 when he was invited by the Dutch National Ballet to provide music for “Two and Only”, a pas de deux performed by two male dancers. The piece was awarded Runner Up at the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse at The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and was later performed with Michael’s accompaniment at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, in the presence of Bill Clinton, Elton John and Prince Harry.
Michael’s latest offering “The Same Again” follows his warmly-received debut release “The Deal Has Long Gone Down”, with both tracks taken from his forthcoming debut EP. The self-titled release is due this Autumn, and was produced by Jon McMullen, best known for his work with Wet Leg and Michael Kiwanuka.
“The Deal Has Long Gone Down” was supported by RTE Radio 1 in Ireland, and attracted praise from a range of key online tastemakers including Eat This Music, the most radicalist and Louder Than War with the latter enthusing: “Funereal country blues born of the same dirt track as Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. Benjamin’s rich, deep vocals bring a gravitas and world weariness to the track in excess of his years.”
Having recently returned from a contemporary music festival in Rome and off the back of a debut headline show in London, Michael J. Benjamin returned to the UK to perform at The Great Escape in Brighton this May.
MICHAEL J BENJAMIN – NEW SINGLE: “THE SAME AGAIN”
OUT 19 MAY, VIA RUBYWORKS
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NEW EP – COMING THIS AUTUMN
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