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Heywood
Skills For The Long Emergency
Velvet Blue Music
www.velvetbluemusic.com/heywood


Oscillating between synth-pop-glam and folk-pop acoustics, singer-songwriter Ben Heywood straddles the line between Bob Dylan-style street performer and David Guetta-esque dancehall pop. Heywood's latest CD, Skills For The Long Emergency from Velvet Blue Music, traverses from space age frequency to folksy strumming improvising on the acoustic guitar. There are indeed two sides to Ben Heywood's music, one being electronic-based and the other indulging in acoustic meshed tracks. To most people, these are polarized traits, and yet to Heywood, they come from the same family of music.

The twinkling synths and squealing sound effects of "The Long Emergency" are powered down to a folksy acoustic thrumming in "Whispers From The Fire" as Heywood muses, "Once I was in love / And you loved me back… You took me in your arms and said I don't care what the world thinks… Once I heard you were killed… There are no arms left to hold me the way that you do / The way that you did." This theme of having loved and lost is further explored in "Border Town" as synth effects are inflamed and Heywood imparts, "Time never gives / It only takes."

Guitar distortions spark and thrust spooled into massive flourishes along "The Rapture" then shifting into a dense mane of dark tones through "Once I Believed" rippling into molten blazes as Heywood's vocals maintain a mild manner. The technopop fixings of "Cain Come Back To Me" are strapped in by roving drumbeats, which vessel a doo-wop tempered lull through the electro-pop fringes of "The Weight." The Gothic tint of "She's An Apostle" has a funeral-tinged ambience stemmed in a slow tempo and shrouded in sparse instrumentation as the keyboards move along a somber gait.

Skills For The Long Emergency is non-constrictive as the album courses through electro-pop clusters and acoustic riffage displaying Heywood's propensity to think outside of the confines of mainstream audiences. He's an artist whose palette is diverse not only in its hues but in the mixing of the hues accessible to him. Skills For The Long Emergency can come off as a hodge-podge of acoustic and electronic elements, but keeping true to his nature, it's the elements Heywwod desires to work with and shape into his own creations.

-Susan Frances

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