Benjamin Folke Thomas will release his new album ‘Modern Man’ via Aveline Records on November 9th. Regular readers of RGM will remember Benjamin as we reviewed his last studio album ‘Copenhagen’ back in 2017 (review link) with Rich Barnard claiming it featured “A diverse and very thoughtfully arranged set of songs”. If ‘Tasteless and Complacent’ the first single from the album is anything to go by then ‘Modern Man’ should be well worth seeking out. Benjamin Folke Thomas is currently on tour playing solo shows with John Murry and will embark on a run of headline shows with his full band on November 21st. More about Benjamin Folke Thomas, the video for the new single and those tour dates follows:
Ten years into his music career, two landmarks loomed large in the life of Benjamin Folke Thomas. He was about to hit 30 and he was about to get married. Ben took stock of the situation and did what he always did with his thoughts – he turned them into songs. The ten songs on Modern Man draw from folk, country and the blues to reveal the inner thoughts of a songwriter torn between supreme self-confidence and fear of the future. You might even call it a mid-life crisis, if it weren’t a little early for that.
Perhaps it’s those long winter nights in Sweden, to where Ben recently returned after almost a decade in London. “I’m but a worn-out troubadour,” he sings on One Day, a slow piano ballad that represents a musical departure for a musician whose finger- picking guitar style is his signature. “I go from bar to bar and I sing for room and board. Sometimes, when the going gets tough, I try to sing a sad song to shut the people up.”
Modern Man is full of sad songs, written over a three-month period and recorded in just two days in Gothenburg with a tight-knit band of Henning Sernhede (guitar), Johannes Mattsson (bass) and Erik Berndtsson (drums).
He recalls his early days in One Day (“I admit I wasn’t very good, I was trying too hard to be misunderstood”), and imagines how he would deal with pop stardom (“I’ll become right wing and forget about the poverty and the troubles I’ve been in”). Stuff Of Dreams is a wistful tale of a chance encounter in a pool hall with Hollywood superstar Paul Newman, who offers Ben a role in his next film, while One More Chance looks at his impending nuptials through less than rose-tinted glasses. “It’s about me getting married and thinking my wife is going to leave me for someone with loads of money,” he laughs drily.
Lily is a country-flavoured murder ballad told from the unusual perspective of a wife who has just shot dead her abusive husband. “All the ones I know involve male violence against women so I wanted to put that right,” says Ben. “I suppose it’s inspired by thinking about my male privilege, and definitely by the whole #MeToo movement.” One of the album’s major departures is the seven-minute guitar epic Dead Horizon, filled with heavy riffs and screeching solos, suggesting that inside this melancholy acoustic guitarist with a halo of blond curls beats a heart of rock.
For Ben the ten songs on Modern are linked by a common thread. “Taken as a whole, they look at the inevitable narcissism of being an artist. I’ve always written autobiographically before so it was different and difficult to detach myself and write some songs from a different perspective – especially when English is not my first language. “The most important bit for me was to be as concise as possible and for the songs to have a common thread.”
Folke Thomas was born in the coldest winter recorded in modern day history in Gothenburg; perhaps his obsession for sad, lamenting country songs was inevitable; and grew up on a secluded island off the coast of Sweden, populated by mainly evangelical Christians. However, Ben never found God. He discovered grunge music instead, and at the age of 11 he was playing drums in a punk band before turning to Folk and Americana music after seeing Kurt Cobain’s performance of ‘In The Pines’ on Unplugged. Steeping himself in Leadbelly, Dylan, and Leonard Cohen, by the age of 20 he was an accomplished finger-picker, confident performer, and mature songwriter.
Ben released his first studio album Too Close To Here in 2013 and its follow-up Rogue State of Mind came two years later. Recorded with the same Swedish band in their studio in an old warehouse, and released on Bucketful of Brains, it caught the ear of BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris who invited Ben to Nashville as part of BBC Introducing. His third studio album Copenhagen, released in 2017, won rave reviews and was followed with a live album, Acoustic Classics, later last year.
BEN FOLKE THOMAS 2018 UK TOUR DATES
SEPTEMBER 2018 SOLO SUPPORT DATES:
September 11th Leicester (supporting John Murry)
September 12th Hyde Park book Club – Leeds (supporting John Murry)
September 13th Borderline – London (supporting Hawksley Workman)
September 14th – Naked lunch – Liverpool (supporting John Murry)
September 15th – Ty Pawb – Wrexham (supporting John Murry)
September 16th – Broadcast – Glasgow (supporting John Murry)
September 17th – Edinburgh – Sneaky Petes (supporting John Murry)
September 18th – Telfords Warehouse – Chester (supporting John Murry)
NOVEMBER HEADLINE TOUR (FULL BAND)
Wednesday 21st November – The Castle Hotel, Manchester
Thursday 22nd November – The White Hart, Corby
Friday 23rd November – The Prince Albert, Stroud
Saturday 24th November – Railway Inn Winchester
Sunday 25th November – Lexington London
Monday 26th November - Kitchen Garden Café Birmingham (solo show)
www.benfolkethomas.com // @benfolkethomas