Welcome to the Reservoir Geek’s Artist Spotlight.
Our mission is to introduce artists, from all types of media, which are lesser known and not necessarily main stream. They may be emerging artists trying to get their big break or are established, yet not widely known. No medium is off limits. We come from a wide variety of backgrounds, so you never know who or what we will cover next.
I would like to introduce you to Ben Cooper. Ben is a singer/song writer that performs under the stage name, Radical Face. His style is often described as Modern Folk, along the likes of Sufjan Stevens. I was introduced to his music while watching the Discovery Channel Series, North America. I remember hearing a captivating song and had to hear more. I quickly used the app Shazam and found the song that grabbed me was Welcome Home. From the opening of the dancing of wind chimes, to the rhythmic clapping, to the acoustic guitar and piano, I was captivated. He is like a one man Simon and Garfunkel. I was hooked. I had to hear more, and that I did.
Ben was born in 1982 in Jacksonville, Fl and has 9 siblings. He states his family is a big influence in his work. When he was 14, he came out to his family as gay and his step-father kicked him out of the house. Later, there were some much more serious issues that came to light about his step-father. While it is easily found by searching, I choose not to include it here.
At 19, he developed a talent for writing and wrote 2 novels, but lost them when his computer crashed and he hadn’t backed it up. It’s said he took a hammer to his computer and decided to focus on his music. Lucky for us, unintended consequences turned into a music career.
In October of 2017, I was fortunate enough to see him live at the Kessler Theater in Dallas, TX. It is such a wonderful, small venue with fantastic acoustics. The show was intimate and he was completely engaged with the crowd. He would tell stories and the meaning of the songs as he performed.
His first full LP release was Ghost in 2007. On it you can find the aforementioned Welcome Home. It was recorded in an old tool shed behind his house and many of the ambient sounds heard such and wind chimes and birds chirping, were incorporated into the tracks. It brings a truthfulness that is often over produced out of studio albums.
In November of 2010, he announced a trilogy of albums known as the Family Tree. They follow the lives of multiple generations of a fictional family, the Northcotes, set in the 1800s. The family is unique in that they are afflicted with strange and unusual powers, such as walking on water while sleep walking, to seeing spirits, to bringing dead animals back to life. These are things they feel they have to hide, thus are forced to live with dark secrets. It sounds strange, I know, but it works. When listening to the albums, The Roots (2011), The Branches (2013) and The Leaves (2016), you get the feeling you are listening to someone’s confessional. It has a level of truth and honesty not often seen. By the third album, it becomes apparent it has become more of shedding of anger, than the Northcotes. His music ebbs and flows in a way that feels natural and organic. Using only period instraments and voice, he paints such a vivd picture, you feel like part of the piece.
The chance hearing of Welcome Home, opened me up to a new artist and subsequently a new-to-me genre of music. I encourage everyone to give him a listen and while you’re at it, do some musical exploring of your own. It’s an amazing world out there.