Album Review: Ben Forster – Acoustic Covers, Vol. 2 (2013)

“So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you”

Volume 2 of Ben Forster’s Acoustic Covers followed a year after the first, responding to its success and Forster’s rising profile. And in tribute to his fanbase, he crowdsourced suggestions for what songs might appear on this record, cherry-picking his selection from the most popular. And to mix things up even further, relatively speaking, he also added a pianist (Robert Eckland) in with the solo guitar (Luke Higgins) for these stripped-back arrangements.

The most successful track on this album is probably the most unexpected one – Björk‘s ‘Hyperballad’. I’m a Björk superfan and this is one of my most favourite of her songs and somehow, this is as good a cover as I’ve heard of it, capturing Forster’s ethos perfectly with an uncomplicated reading of the song which takes away from its strangeness but highlights its emotion too. An inspired choice and a compelling performance.

Kleerup and Robyn’s ‘With Every Heartbeat’ similarly shines under this treatment and along with singalong classic ‘What’s Up?’ and Bonnie Raitt’s glorious ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, makes for a fantastic middle section to the album. The beginning and end don’t quite match up – the piano arrangement of ‘A Thousand Years’ sadly sounds a little anaemic, especially compared to the tumbling chords of the impressively fragile-sounding ‘Chasing Cars’ which follows.

And I don’t think anyone needs to hear another version of ‘The Long and Winding Road’ but maybe that’s just me! Still, another assured collection – now it’s time for that long-awaited album of original material.

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