New Music Review: Ben Everyman – Iconoplastic

The 8-song EP, called Iconoplastic by Vancouver singer/songwriter Ben Everyman is many things.

For starters, it’s intriguing.  From the artwork on the cover, to the song titles (Jesus Grew Grass (In His Garden), Video Game Guy, Don’t Irritate the Bees), to the songs themselves.

It’s also unique.  It’s dissonant.  It’s witty.  It’s confusing.  It’s amusing.  It’s beautiful.  Like I said, it is many things.

Unique & Dissonant: I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an artist who has as raw a voice as Everyman, teetering on the edge of singing and talking, all with a little bit of a drawl and almost an intention of singing kind of off key.  All the while, he is plucking lovely guitar lines on what sounds like a nylon stringed classical guitar.  This combination is also the reason I find it even dissonant at times. Not sure if that’s quite the right word, but it’s something hard mixed with something lovely.  Make sense?

Confusing & Beautiful: In Birds’ Songs, an organ plays gently over a lovely guitar line, and just when I expect Ben’s sing-talk to fire up, he sings beautifully.  Not just through the verse but into the chorus, where violin strings pair wonderfully with this voice that seemed to come out of nowhere.  This is all confusing because I feel that Everyman’s best is when he’s singing in this manner. Don’t Irritate the Bees, is quite similar in the vocal aspect, and is all the better for it.  These two songs really showcase Ben Everyman’s true vocal talent that is perhaps a little too absent on the rest of the album.

Witty & Amusing: Well, take the lyrics to either RocknRollStar, or the borderline-blasphemous Jesus Grew Grass (In His Garden) and you’ll know what I’m talking about.  From RocknRollStar: “Rich and famous sure sounds cool to me/If that’s who I’m supposed to be/But I know that it’s true/You can’t be you and a rock’n’roll star too”.  He prods the obsessive culture of stardom our society is known for and points out why it’s all a lesson in futility, which I can’t help but agree with. I find his blunt and witty honesty quite amusing and even refreshing. Jesus Grew Grass (In His Garden) is another prodding piece.  Though, I’m not sure if it’s a dig at Christianity, or simply the way Mr. Everyman imagined Jesus living. With the chorus line of “Jesus grew grass in his garden/For his flock to use/And Jesus grew grass in his garden/And I’ll bet he smoked it, too”, one may either share a giggle or become slightly (or very) offended.  Or even moreso with: “The things that weed and Jesus have in common are these two/Seems to me that they precede both healing and good food/The difference between the two you are about to learn/Weed is good for smoking/But Jesus didn’t burn”.  Take from it what you will.

“Specializing in dark musical irony” is the profile slogan for Ben Everyman on his official Twitter account.  He probably couldn’t have described his musical stylings any better.  Be sure to give this mysterious, witty, offensive, beautiful singer/songwriter a listen, because there is bound to be an aspect of his music that appeals to you.


~ by DR on April 9, 2011.

One Response to “New Music Review: Ben Everyman – Iconoplastic”

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