Nov 02, 2022
By Ben Jardine
Who is Benjamin Clementine? The British singer/songwriter is mercurial, genre-defining. He sings in poetics, and is a virtuoso at the piano. Yet, on his third studio album, And I Have Been, the 33-year-old reckons with himself, his path, and his future.
Written and recorded in Clementine’s home in Ojai, California, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the album deals with love, marriage, parenting, and depression. “Like everyone,” said Clementine in a press statement, “I was also confronted with a lot of lessons, complications, and epiphanies to do with sharing my path with someone special.”
After his second studio album, I Tell a Fly (2017), Clementine got married to singer/songwriter Flo Morrissey and had two children. And I Have Been immediately appears like a letter to Clementine’s younger self, and you can hear him say, “Look who we were, look what we did, and look where we are now.”
The lead-off single, “Genesis,” shows Clementine reckoning with his own origins. He’s had a difficult life, living on the Parisian streets in his early career, and the woozy rhythm—slightly French, slightly maritime—of “Genesis” propels forward this self-portrait.
“Auxiliary” feels like a direct response to the pandemic and the universal isolation therein, which Clementine uses to describe his relationship to his wife and their parenting journey together.
While the more reserved instrumentation of And I Have Been is a comfort, the tracks tend to lose the magnitude that Clementine is so known for. But there’s a deeper comfort in witnessing Clementine find himself in the sparse piano and direct lyricism.
Clementine has said that And I Have Been is just one half of a larger album, an album that has been hinted at as his last. He wants to pursue other artistic endeavors: acting (Clemetine had a minor role in 2021’s Dune), fashion design, and poetry. If this is one half of a swan song, it certainly feels like a triumphant one. (www.benjaminclementine.com)
Author rating: 6.5/10
Rate this album
No ratings have been recorded yet.