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Event Review: Ben Carroll
The Living Room, New York City, December 15, 2006
By Susan Frances
(more articles from this author)
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Artist: Ben Carroll
Event Title: “Ben Carroll Live”
Genre: Acoustic Pop
Venue: The Living Room , New York City
Event Date: December 15, 2006

Acoustic blues, pop, jazz, folk, gospel, and a cappella is easily managed in the hands of singer-songwriter Ben Carroll. Originally from Washington, D.C., and presently a resident of New York City, Ben performed at Manhattan’s renowned indie rock club The Living Room to a packed house. Accompanying Ben on bass guitar was good friend Greg Richardson and his young daughter, Noelya Richardson, on handclaps and toe tapping backbeats.

Ben started the show off with a persuasive a cappella aria that had his audience gazing with wonderment at his emotive vocal swags, displaying both a gentle elegance and burly strength, as he caressed each note. He generated warmth and clarity effortlessly in his singing, similar to iconic tunesmiths such as Stevie Wonder and Prince. His vocal likeness to Prince was especially noticed in his cover version of the enigmatic purple bard’s hit single, “Kiss.”

Relying on the bare essentials, Ben played the acoustic guitar as his vocals swerved and swilled with rigadoon movements while balancing on Richardson’s bass rhythm. Their gallops propelled in sync as Ben’s jangly strummed chords and jazz vocals sizzled and seared through the number.

His full mouth resonance and panther-like agility were in proportion to the mood of the songs. He could have showed off his vocal dynamics, but resigned to placing his vocal clasps where they best suit the song. His modesty was startling, not only interacting with the crowd, but sitting in on the entire set of the opening performer Krystle Warren and staying until the last solo artists of the night, Ben Arnold and Samantha Murphy finished, and telling people “These guys are really good.”

Ben still feels that he has more to learn and like a sponge he absorbs his surroundings, taking in new influences and fine tuning what he already knows.

His set showed the level of diversity he has for music, like his song “Real Thing,” showcasing his keeness for placing funky beats along country pop terraces, and by playing funky jazz pop trots like “Backyard Room” and “Find A Job.” He also packed in bluesy swooning lullabys like “My Darling True” and “Lover Undercover,” and gospel shaded folk arrangements like “My Baby Has Stars In Her Eyes” and the highly applauded “Don’t You Mind People Grinning In Your Face,” which was done a cappella with the audience joining in on the handclapping beats. It was a number that Ben was coaxed into playing as the audience rallied together for an encore and refused to leave without one more song.

One very interesting aspect about Ben Carroll’s show was that his vocals got progressively stronger as the set proceeded. His finale, “Don’t You Mind People Grinning In Your Face,” was the best vocal performance he gave that evening. His vocals never waned or dried up, but remained consistantly flexible and muscular, and he still feels that he has more to learn.

2007 will see a new album by Ben Carroll. It will be a collaboration with his father. Jon Carroll. It is the follow up to his debut release, Lover Undercover, which received honors for his lyrics by American Songwriter magazine.

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.

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