Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers – “Birds with Broken Wings”, 5/5

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Photo provided by Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers.

With absolutely no surprise, Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers’ sophomore album perches atop Canadian community and campus radio magazine !earshot’s national folk/roots/blues chart.

The album opens with a beautifully twisted and villainous song called “Birds with Broken Wings.” This song contains a variety of instruments that add many moving layers that instantly hook you and keep you begging for more.

Caplan’s voice is raspy and animated. The wide variety of cultural influences, including elements of Slavic and Spanish music, add so many more musical intricacies that keep your ears keen on every note.

The lyrical simplicity in the album’s second song “I Got Me a Woman” – in comparison to the complexity of the first tune – allows you to slow down and appreciate the band’s talent and Caplan’s vocals. Your appreciation of their musicianship grows when you hear how they do simple so well it’s mesmerizing.

The beautiful moving romantic piano ballad “Lovers’ Waltz” is coupled with unconventional, raw lyrics that seize your heart strings. This song inspires you to imagine the most love you have ever felt, which still leaves me in tears every single listen, though I have heard to it upwards of a dozen times.

“40 Days & 40 Nights” is the most well-known song on the album, especially on independent radio stations. Many people I’ve spoken to became instant fans and went to Caplan’s recent show at the Good Will Social Club on that song alone. The crawling tempo throughout the song is so well done and the pauses in the middle will take your breath away in begging anticipation.

The lyrical genius of this album, in both complex and simple tunes, is mind-blowing and the instrumental composition is perfectly complementary to a strong vocal performance. I honestly have to grasp at any criticism, which slips through my fingers immediately.

If you are a poet, musician, music lover, dancer, emotional, unemotional, or a person that owns a device that plays music, listen to this album.