I am always fascinated by the randomness of life, the idea that something as small as being delayed for five minutes can change the entire course of your day, or even life, has forever intrigued me. An example of this would be my introduction to Benjamin Francis Leftwich, when a channel change while procrastinating from finishing a college essay would lead to me seeing a TV ad for the debut LP by the York native. The advertisement would feature the lead single from Leftwich,Pictures, and I was immediately intrigued by what I heard.
The raspy voice, the delicate acoustic guitar, and the reflective lyrics that demonstrated a stunning honesty seemed worth investigating. Leftwich would release said LP, Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm in July 2011. A concise and beautiful collection of ten hauntingly and atmospheric songs, that would come after the release of the A Million Miles EP and the Pictures EP. The album would receive positive reviews from critics and fans and would help to bring the music of Benjamin Francis Left to a more public eye. Atlas Hands and the excellent Shine would prove the standout tracks for this writer of the record and provided a clear representation of the kind of sound Leftwich was trying to create.
Leftwich would embark on a long tour to promote the album across the UK and Ireland, and this writer would be fortunate enough to attend the Cork show on said tour in the intimate Cyprus Avenue venue in November 2012. Leftwich portrayed an incredibly likeable performer during the show with his audience interactions between songs, but the real majesty came while he sang. The raspy, fragile voice that can be heard on the album proved to be no created gimmick and sounded even better in the live setting than it did on the album. The highlight of the show being an off mic rendition of Atlas Hands during the encore. All in attendance that night would leave extremely satisfied.
But just as things seemed to be getting properly started for Leftwich, he seemed to disappear off the radar again. Years would pass without any sign of new music, social media activity, or live dates from the talented singer/songwriter.
Eventually, in February 2016, Leftwich would reemerge with news of new single, and an explanation for his absence over the previous few years. Leftwich’s family had suffered tragedy in April 2013 when he lost his father to cancer, an event that would have a devastating affect on the singer as outlined in an emotional Facebook post in February of 2016.
Tilikum, a song that Leftwich would write while sitting outside his father’s old house, would be the lead single for the second album, After The Rain, that would eventually be released in August 2016. After The Rain would prove to be another triumph for the songwriter and would be another collection of emotionally driven songs that reflected on the difficult few years that Leftwich had gone through.
Benjamin Francis Leftwich writes music to make you want to stop and reflect on the life that is moving around you. At a time when much of music seems to want to increase the speed that we do things, it is often a pleasant antidote to listen to something that wants the very opposite, and few do this better than Leftwich.