Ben Kunder. Better Human

a1212112929_16This second album from Toronto based songsmith Ben Kunder is an enjoyable slice of breezy pop inflected songs which comes across at times as if a more upbeat than usual Ron Sexsmith was the scribe and performer. Kunder’s attractive tenor voice rides over some very sympathetic settings with some arrangements recalling the heyday of LA balladry as practised by Jackson Browne ( as on Fight For Time) while the fizzy Jessi is enlivened by electric keyboard and a cheesy synth zipping around over the rock steady backbeat.

The album opens with the title song which is a bit of an earworm as it’s eminently hummable melody is catchy as well while the rhythm section pulse away and again a synthesiser warbles along with the end result not too far removed from Todd Rundgren’s early work. Indeed, Kunder roots around classic singer songwriter territory for much of the album with the piano driven Hard Line, a ballad which rises to a string laden crescendo, sounding like the sort of song Eric Carmen should have written while Lay Down with its Hammond organ swell dives into the southern delta sounding for all the world like a lost Leon Russell number.

Despite the abundance of comparisons above Kunder stamps his own personality on the album and this is most apparent on the last two songs. Come On is simply presented with weeping strings, acoustic guitar and female harmonies as Kunder delivers a beautifully tender love song and Night Sky sparkles with a sense of wonder as he sings to his child, recalling his birth and offering his guiding hand for the years ahead.

Ben Kunder is currently touring the UK, all dates here and he plays in Glasgow tonight at The Doublet Bar.

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