Following on from the success of his EP, Everything I Want, Ben Poole released his debut album, Let’s Go Upstairs, which was produced by Grammy Award winning producer Isaac Nossel. Ben mentions in the liner notes that he “didn’t want to end up being just another young blues/rock player making an album of songs that were just excuses for guitar solos.” This album clearly establishes Ben as one of the gifted young blues rock guitarists to come from the UK, but what clearly sets Ben apart from the rest of them is the maturity and rapid growth in his songwriting skills that are clearly displayed on this new album. He undeniably meets the goal that he set for himself on this record.
The album consists of three covers including a great rendition of the Otis Redding/Steve Cropper song “Mr. Pitiful” and the Anne Peebles original “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down,” which has a great horn section addition. Enough about the covers though. The rest of the album consists of nine originals penned by Ben with the occasional hint and prod from Isaac. “Hanging In The Balance” starts the album off with some acoustic guitar work that sets a thoughtful mood that is appropriate for the deep subject matter of the song. Ben expresses the need to do the right thing every day since you basically only live once and tomorrow might basically be too late. “It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way” opens with more acoustic guitar as Ben contemplates lost love and the desire to stay friends with someone you were so close to and the difficulty involved in getting back to “the way things were” prior falling in love. The tone changes with the funky “Let’s Go Upstairs” where Ben really let’s his uniquely gruff voice shine.
Things slow down again with the pain filled lament of “Love Nobody No More.” Simply an excellent track with a guitar solo in the middle that has a unique tone. Anyone who’s ever loved and lost can relate to the sentiment of this song. Ben sprinkles in the positive love songs also. “Holding Onto Love” is an upbeat tribute to how the right love can turn everything around and give a person a reason to believe again. “Over It Now” is a fast paced track that could have easily been an outtake from Clapton’s Journeyman album.
The somber ballad “After All This Time” leads in the stellar gospel tinged “Let The Rain Come Down” where Ben really lets his voice shine again and is backed up with talented backing vocals. Great guitarist in her own right Dani Wilde provides backing vocals on much of the album. A key change is used to build tension until Ben let’s rip with another perfectly restrained solo. Through out the album Ben adds just enough guitar power to let you know he’s got the skills without turning the songs into a guitar showcase.
To sum it up, this is simply a phenomenal debut album that leaves you wanting more of this talented players output. It’s filled with some great songwriting and superb playing by not only Ben but also his regular band-mates Barry Pethers on bass and Alan Taylor on drums. Let’s Go Upstairs should be on everyone’s playlist who can appreciate blues rock for more than simply an excuse to shred on the guitar.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Hanging In The Balance
– Love Nobody No More
– Let The Rain Come Down
– It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way
– Let’s Go Upstairs
– I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
The Big Hit
– Let The Rain Come Down
Review by Kevin O’Rourke