Review: Benjamin Tod journeys into the realms of harrowing chance
Benjamin Todd/Songs I swore never to sing /Anti-Corporate Music
Three out of five stars
Benjamin Tod, the longtime frontman of the Lost Dog Street Band, has a lot of angst getting rid of his chest. Armed only with a mournful voice and a lonely guitar, he bares his soul and deals with the most desperate and painful scenarios imaginable – a struggle with addiction, the struggle to stay sober , the reconciliation of a relationship, and even the lingering sadness of having to put down your dog and deal with the death of a friend. This pleasant feeling of loss does not subside, which makes the title revealing Songs I swore never to sing as sinister as its name suggests.
As heartbreaking as these tales are, it’s the quiet resolution that lingers throughout that gives this album resilience. The sentiment that resonates through songs like “Not Coming Home”, “Talkeetna Tonight”, “Still Search for You” and “Dark Before the Dawn” is truly touching and absolutely evident. The pain is never far from the surface, and the honesty and intimacy are unwavering in every encounter. This can make some of these songs hard to listen to, but still credit to Tod for mastering the specters that haunt him and his determination to persist and persevere.
At the end of the day, Songs I swore never to sing could be considered a kind of travelogue, which details Tod’s journey through the challenges that beset him at pivotal times in his life. A stripped-down set of stark confessions, its unblemished atmosphere is reflected in the fact that it was recorded in just six hours, infusing an urgency that is both emotional and enduring. In the end, Tod deserves credit for putting it all on the line.
Songs I swore never to sing is not easy to listen to and in some cases can even have a paralyzing effect on the psyche and sensitivity. However, if the main mission of an artist is to move people, sometimes even to tears, then Tod’s bet has certainly paid off.