The Single Edits – Ben Craven
Australian Ben Craven was a name I had not heard prior to this release. As I started to familiarize myself with The Single Edits, which is a collection of pieces from Craven’s previous solo work, I found myself wanting to go back in time and get more of what I had been missing.
Craven is a guitarist, keyboardist, and vocalist that has his feet firmly planted in the prog rock genre. His work can be complex and lengthy at times, which of course is a signature characteristic of the prog genre. This collection is somewhat of a greatest hits package that takes Craven’s complex arrangements and makes them a bit more accessible for radio and the average listener.
Upon hearing the material, I found it instantly appealing. I found remnants of legendary acts like Pink Floyd, Yes, and ELP scattered around, but these songs all felt fresh and original. Nothing sounds forced as Craven delivers some expertly crafted guitar work and some impressive song composition. Opening with an instrumental called “Critical Mass Part 2,” it immediately brings the listener into a dark, ominous orchestration that becomes sprinkled with some great complimentary percussion and guitar work. And, as the next track (“The Remarkable Man”) has a steady jazz swing, it almost feels like the beginning of a new James Bond film. It’s big, bold, epic, and just classy enough to make you envision Daniel Craig walking the beach with the latest leggy Bond girl. Craven gives us quite a few different looks here, too. “Ready To Lose” is a song that acts more like a straight forward verse-chorus-verse radio hit, while “Spy In The Sky Part 3” has Star Trek legend William Shatner doing a spoken word part over an odd and complex arrangement. And, of course there is the standard instrumental (“Revenge Of Dr. Komodo”) that harkens back to Keith Emerson’s Moog brilliance. But I feel that Craven really excels when he puts his guitar skills in the forefront. He is a passionate player that gives his guitar a voice and a beating heart. “Aquamarine” is an absolutely brilliant instrumental that has Craven’s guitar singing over a steady and joyous keyboard part that references the sound of water droplets. “Great Divide” is another song that puts Craven’s guitar talents on display with excellent acoustic work layered underneath a great David Gilmour-like electric part.
Ben Craven is a guy I will keep a close eye on. I love when I get a progressive rock musician that can go “outside the box” once in a while, and has a feel for song composition and structure. Craven is that kind of musician, and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.
You can purchase Ben Craven’s The Single Edits here: