Copenhagen finds Scandinavian artist Benjamin Folke Thomas continuing his journey from folkie (admired as much for his finger picking skills as his songs) to melodic rock band leader. Recorded with the same line up as on Rogue State Of Mind the album is less punchy than its predecessor with Thomas’s attractive baritone well to the fore over a backing that rarely lets loose but is more sonically adventurous. The opening song, Good Enough For Me, is a prime example as the band settle into a mid tempo shuffle with Thomas almost talking through the Dylan like lyrics before his refrain is amplified by muted guitar swirls. As the song progresses the guitars muster some energy before breaking out into a Thin Lizzy type duality without disturbing the neighbours. The following Rhythm And Blues is sparkier with an acoustic guitar thrash and is the first of several songs that address relationships. The band are in fine folk rock form here but the passion emanates from Thomas’s vocals.
There’s a great deal of passion involved here but again it’s down to Thomas’s voice or his lyrics with one song, Hold On particularly scathing as Thomas tears into some rock idols and their predilection for youthful flesh. The soulful intro in Good Friend Again finds Thomas recovering from the night before and disturbed by the neighbours, “fucking through the wall” before he goes on to scourge himself for his failings while the band slowly ramp up the tension. Bad News finds Thomas approximating Leonard Cohen’s apocalyptic pronouncements on his The Future album down to Cohen’s use of keyboards and programmed drums on an enigmatic song that might refer to the global banking crisis that still has us bailing out the banks.
Nestled within these songs are some gems. Finn is a trilogy of tributes to three people in his life that wafts wonderfully with the band finely pulsating and sending out some barbed guitar shards that swell towards the end as a chorus of backing vocals come in and then fade leaving only a beating drum. Copenhagen 30/6 is lighter fare with as its almost bossa nova beat finds Thomas recalling a rock’n’roll romance threatened by poor gigs and too much booze but with a hopeful ending. Struck Gold is about salvation via a muse and again the band gently propel the song along with a funereal beat and slivers of guitar. The song itself is one that had it been written back then might have been selected by Johnny Cash for one of his valedictory albums. The album closes with Thomas revisiting his earlier folk persona with Gimme A Smile recalling the work of Tom Paxton.
The album’s released this Friday and Benjamin Folke Thomas starts a short UK and Europe tour tonight, dates here.