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Hailing from Portsmouth in England, Ben Brookes is a singer-songwriter who obviously identifies with his home and above all its music. There are clear influences of classic American acts like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, but it is impossible to deny that Brookes is at heart part of a quintessentially British lineage of music—artists like Oasis, Paul Weller, The Smiths, and farther back to The Beatles and The Kinks. It should come as no surprise then that his debut album, The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon was recorded in the States with the help of his Minneapolis-based label as its sound is very much a “hands across the water” affair.
The album partly consists of bittersweet tales of romance like the melancholy “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” or “Stories in the Rain,” and more socially conscious numbers like “Integration (Not Segregation),” which never become preachy because Brookes generally reduces the focus to something more personal and intimate. Had The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon been released in 1994, at the peak of the Britpop era, it’s very likely it could have been a much bigger album, but it still stands a set of superbly crafted tunes from a musician with the secrets of British pop running through his blood.
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