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Private Label BR003 

Ben Robertson is a fingerstyle guitarist and singer from North Wales. Rosewood is described as his new album, yet I’ve been unable to discover any previous recordings. On the evidence of Rosewood, though, here is a young musician who is thoroughly comfortable with his chosen instrument and its repertoire, and his music-making exhibits an enviable sense of relaxed quiet accomplishment.

Rosewood is a pleasingly coordinated collection of solo acoustic guitar pieces from the British Isles and Europe, clearly influenced by pioneering folk guitarists of the ilk of John Renbourn and Davy Graham; Ben also makes room for three songs. Tempos are well chosen; I like the gentle sprightliness of the up-tempo tunes – the disc opens with The Princess Royal, which is nimbly managed, as is a morris medley at the midway point. The strathspey, The Sweetness Of Mary, makes an appealing close to the CD, and Ben’s take on Banish Misfortune builds nicely without seeming too frantic.

Ben’s arrangement of the lyrical Nordic fiddle tune Fjellvåk features Phoebe Rees’ violin, while on Paul Metsers’ Farewell To The Gold he brings in Ellie Gowers on harmony vocal; otherwise the entire set is just Ben and his guitar (and voice).

Ben has a keen ear for dynamic contrast; and there are no weak moments among the CD’s tracks. One can well imagine Ben casting an intimate spell with his fingerwork artistry in a small-scale concert situation. And this take-home version faithfully portrays Ben’s musical personality and exercises commendable restraint by remaining pleasingly unadorned.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine