Benjamin Francis Leftwich is a commendable artist in a number of ways. He possesses a distinctive vocal, and is more than proficient playing the folk guitar. He’s even managed to survive being picked up and gushed over by the dramatically dull crowd of Radio 1 DJs, whose usual fare includes the likes of the consistently deplorable Jessie J and the laborious Ed Sheeran. It must be said that Leftwich is a cut above these artists, and is the sort of musician I really want to like. He’s talented, genuine and modest, just the sort of likeable chap who you’d be happy to see succeed. He’s worked well with experienced producer Ian Grimble (Manic Street Preachers, Travis, The Fall) to produce an album filled with lovely touches and subtle, unusual vocal harmonies.
However, many of the finer impressions left on me by the record were not present during Leftwich’s live show as he played without accompaniment, and laid bare in this manner it is evident that many of Leftwich’s songs are unremarkable. Halfway into his live show at the Ruby Lounge my interest is waning and I’m not entirely sure whether or not I’m listening to the same song that started 5 minutes ago or a new one altogether. It’s not that Leftwich’s songs are bad, it’s that standing alone they lack any sort of interesting distinction between one another. The harmonies and instrumentation present on the record should not have been dropped for the live show, and the performance leaves the flaws present in Leftwich’s song writing ability glaringly obvious. To add to the criticism, I’d also say it’s also a mistake to play your most successful song without amplification in a venue which is one half cosmopolitan bar, filled with people chatting. Leftwich’s album is good, but his live show is mediocre.