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Ben Lee

Ripe

Ben Lee

New West Records; September 2007

I drink black coffee, I take my shots without a chaser, and I like my music brooding. You can imagine my reaction, then, as I listened to the latest release from singer/songwriter Ben Lee. This saccharine-sweet album has been heavily promoted for months, and the record lives up to its marketing budget, peppered with hook-laden choruses, cameos, and arrangements just odd and stylistically allusive enough (Lee channels Phil Spector and Andrew Gold) to give the album some credit. Still, for all that it features instrumentally, the potency the album promises is left underdeveloped. The characters in Lee’s lyrically puerile “Birds and Bees” are more naive and idealistic than honest and in love. Lee pairs compositional skill with the illusion of substantive writing on the tongue-in-cheek “American Television.” But if he meant to satirize, he missed the markproving the idea that stands behind this album to be, ironically, ripe. (For more on Ben Lee, click here.)

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