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BEN SANDS - Chocolate And Other Stories 

BEN SANDS - Chocolate And Other Stories 
Spring Records SCD1068 

Member of the much-loved Co. Down sibling group The Sands Family and (like brothers Colum and Tommy) a gifted singer and songwriter in his own right, Ben here releases his eighth solo album. Armed with just his trusty Guild guitar and (of course) his signature warm, seductive voice, Ben invites us into his own sitting room to experience his latest batch of new songs.

All is right with the world at once, you feel, as Ben’s cordial welcome extends through the opening pair of songs – The Road That I’m On reflects with contentment on his chosen path, while Come In, Sit Down And Warm Your Heart is as self-explanatory as you can get! After that, this listener is understandably reluctant to leave Ben’s fireside to take The Bus To Berlin, but this wryly picaresque mini-adventure proves worth the diversion in his company, as is Ben’s homespun philosophy (Another Story Altogether) which accompanies us on our trip through life, and the simple, thoughtful Do It For Love (co-written by Cathryn Craig and Brian Willoughby): proof in less than three minutes that Ben’s a true craftsman.

Then, of course, the very mention of Chocolate ensures an ear-melting anticipation that fair beckons us on to track 8’s affectionate reflection, but before that Ben’s stature as a master storyteller comes into the spotlight with the enigmatic alchemy of The Witch And The Troubadour. As always, Ben’s gentle, subtly demonstrative guitar lines provide the undercurrent, and his instrumental The Back Road is a 2½-minute masterclass in unassumingly tuneful tone-painting.

This is surely a disc to ease the troubled heart: utterly charming, delightful and comforting.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 135 of The Living Tradition magazine