Pushing through obscure ideas with such clarity that they make perfect sense is exactly what we look for in songwriters who bring us more than the same old same-old.
There’s nothing same-ish about Ben Everyman’s sophomore release, the highly convincing and fancifully titled Deprecado.
The nine songs, in fact, are all wildly different from each other in tone, style, and interpretation, although they are united by the guy’s sardonic sense of humour, and by unobtrusive, bare-bones production from Elisa Pangsaeng. (The sound is fuller than on his demo-like debut, Iconoplastic.)
There’s solid rhythm work throughout from drummer Niko Friesen and bassist Mike Vanderlans, with nice touches from trumpeter Kristy-Lee Audette, plus occasional strings, piano, and accordion. But mostly things centre on Everyman’s authoritative acoustic guitar and what you could call plain-spoken singing. It could be even plainer; on “Wish I Could Fight”, a syllable-packed collection of nonviolent revenge fantasies, the folksy twang sits perfectly with his ragtime picking. Some numbers, like closing statement “Uninteresting Man”, would benefit from more direct, less characterful reading.
That’s a small concern in a record that finds this smart muso trying on different masks that may remind the listener of singers as varied as David Byrne, Peter Gabriel, and Jim Cuddy, without sounding like any of them. (He also looks a little like David Schwimmer, but that’s another story.) On some more dynamic numbers, like “Disco Apathy” and “On Hamsters (and Humans)”, the ideas are not fully fleshed out. But what ideas! This artist—who also does interesting visual work, as found in his book-bundled, limited-edition physical CD—is a virtual fountain of original melodies and clever turns of phrase.
On my favourite number (among many), the whistling, western-themed “Velcro Shoes”, he sings of high-school competition with “the big kids in form-fitted calf” and, later, sitting in a diner where “you spell out your name in the fog on the window reflecting your past.” Don’t wait for the movie; get Deprecado now.