Ben Westbeech - Time Out Star of 2011
When Ben Westbeech first emerged four years ago, it’s safe to say his experimental hybrid of soul-meets-hip-hop-meets-dance-meets-jazz was for an acquired taste. The Bristolian quickly earned the praises of Gilles Peterson, no less, and a following of quirky music heads devoted to his debut album, Welcome To The Best Years Of Your Life, released by Petersen’s Brownswood label. It's intriguing then, that following a lengthy absence from the scene he's back for 2011 with a fresh, house-inspired sound. Hooking up with the likes of Soul Clap, Henrik Schwarz, Lovebirds and Midland for the forthcoming album, There's More To Life Than This, his new production partners not only reinforce his considerable credentials as an artist, but complement his penchant for writing songs about love and relationships. “There was nothing I could do or say, I hope the memories of you would fade away,” sings Westbeech wistfully as he performs Memories, surrounded by a flock of late-night revellers in Shoreditch's East Village who happily raise their hands in high spirits to the whimsical lament.
It's a humble PA as part of Time Out Live's Nite Sessions, but there's a great deal of excitement in the air as Westbeech delivers a seamless set of tracks from the new record. Each cut pounds recklessly in the way good house tunes should – some uplifting (Friday), others more brooding (Fatherless VIP), and his vocals remain consistently smooth, most evident on a sing-along like his version of Music Is The Answer. The crowd are willing to hang onto every beat, every lyric, every melody, and it's to his credit, considering he's shunned any significant throwbacks to his first album. Instead, Westbeech makes the most of this late nighter to re-introduce himself and give both his loyal tribe and newcomers the chance to experience what can only be hailed as an invigorating new direction.
Words: Matilda Egere-Cooper