Benjamin Clementine is an artist to compulsively watch and follow. His performance of the title track of this debut EP on Jools Holland in June 2013 was mesmerising and the best contribution to the show. When you think it also included Paul McCartney, Earth, Wind and Fire, Gary Clark, Jr. and the Arctic Monkeys you can see the potential that flows out of this 26 year old Londoner who learned his trade via Paris.
There are easy comparisons made in terms of Clementine's music to the drama of Nina Simone and the operatics of Anthony Hegarty. This does not do justice. As one music critic has stated "Benjamin Clementine is a self-taught singer and pianist whose powerful voice lends a bold quality to his genre-defying narrative music".
This short EP comprises three songs some of which will figure on his forthcoming album "At least for now". As stated it is "Cornerstone" which is the shop window for Clementine's music. It is a soaring piano ballad with a rolling backdrop and powerful vocal which emotes true passion. The second track "I won't complain" is perhaps his most commercial song to date, a gorgeous summation of his art where he states defiantly "My mind is a mirror, a reflection only known to me/And for those who hate me, the more you hate me the more you help me". Finally the simple piano version of "London" makes you view the Capital with a warm glow as the performance sends shivers down your spine.
If one tenth of the promise contained on this EP can be translated into his debut album then Benjamin Constantine will be a name that will figure highly in 2015 and his music will undoubtedly poll highly in the end of year lists. Just think even those out of touch judges at the Mercury Prize might even do the right thing for once.
Review by Red on Black