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Album Review: Radical Face The Family Tree: The Roots

1 May 2012 | 10:05 pm | Celline Narinli

Stepping out of the conceptual dimension of the album, the musicality of each song shines radiantly.

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It's been five years since the release of Radical Face's debut album Ghost, and now, not only has Florida native Ben Cooper released a follow up, but it is the first of a trilogy of albums that he will be releasing over the coming years as part of his The Family Tree project, which continues his penchant for creating concept-based music.

The Family Tree: The Roots is the first instalment. This time around he has based his narratives around a 19th Century fictional family, travelling with them through their hardships and strengths. Completely dedicated to the narrative set in the 1800s, Cooper has used instruments available in that era only, neatly composing accordion, banjo and piano alongside simple beats and ambient strings. Cooper's slight Americana twang in the vocals also contributes to the antique, sepia-tinged mood of his songs, and at times, when sung in a nonchalant style, is reminiscent of the late Elliot Smith (particularly in the pre-chorus of Black Eyes).

Stepping out of the conceptual dimension of the album, the musicality of each song shines radiantly. Very often you will hear variations of tinkering piano that seamlessly evolve into rich ensembles of strings and vocals, alleviating your mood instantly, furthermore enhanced by the heartfelt and evocative narratives.

Along with a much more pristine production – the album was recorded in a tool shed behind his mother's house; recording in isolation a seemingly popular trend for folk singers as of late – Cooper has recaptured every feeling present in past single Welcome Home and has skillfully spread its glory across an entire album worth of material, particular highlights being A Pound Of Flesh, Ghost Towns and Always Gold.

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