2016-04-25 – Antimusic (Review)

Originally published at http://www.antimusic.com/reviews/16/Ben_Craven_-_Last_Chance_to_Hear.shtml

Ben Craven – Last Chance to Hear

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Craven is a multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for big, cinematic prog rock sounds and the ability to sound like a full band even though he handles everything himself; on Last Chance to Hear Craven writes all the songs, plays all the instruments and does most of the producing and engineering (prog kingpin Billy Sherwood handles those chores on one song.) The album is mostly instrumental but it begins with “Last Chance to Hear Part 1,” a vocal number that adds a seriously bouncy and jazzy swing to the prog soundscape. Three instrumental cuts that segue together follow and Craven demonstrates his talent on guitar throughout, playing electric Satriani-esque lines on “Critical Mass Part 2” but highlighting acoustic guitar on “Spy in the Sky Part 2,” a prelude to another vocal cut, “Spy in the Sky Part 3” with actor William Shatner on vocals. Shatner has been ridiculed for his vocal work in the past but here he sounds great, delivering his words in a manner that often drifts into a throaty growl that adds just the right amount of drama to the cut. Craven takes the mic again for “The Remarkable Man,” the album’s third and final vocal outing and again imbues the cut with a swinging rhythm. Four instrumental songs at a combined length of about 17-minutes finish the effort, highlighted by the Emerson, Lake & Palmer-like “Revenge of Dr Komodo.” An included DVD features behind-the-scenes footage and four music videos for songs that are on the CD. This impressive set may have, with its title, some fans wondering whether the Australian wunderkind is hinting that he’s hanging it up; those fans can rejoice as hidden in the liner notes is the advisement that “Ben Craven will return.” And there’s plenty of good stuff to hear right here right now, last chance or not.

Ben Craven – Last Chance to Hear

Rating: ****