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Lear, Ben / Lillian: A Folk Opera
Album:Lillian: A Folk Opera Collection:General
Artist:Lear, Ben Added:11/2011
Label:Self-Release 

A-File Activity
Add Date:2012-01-16 Pull Date:2012-03-19 
Week Ending:11 Mar5 Feb22 Jan
Airplays:121

 Recent Airplay
1.Mar 08, 2012:Question Air
Lillian
4.Feb 02, 2012:Question Air
Imaginary Friends
2.Feb 04, 2012:The Groove Machine
Entire Opera
5.Jan 19, 2012:Nathin' To Do
Just Plain Dead (Closing)
3.Feb 02, 2012:Nathin' To Do
Underwater Sounds - The Instrumental

Album Review
kevin rouff
Reviewed 2012-01-09 
Ben Lear / Lillian: A Folk Opera / Underwater Sounds / 2011

Really, the title says it all. Think of an opera- you have instrumentals that tell tales when void of vocals, vocals that give emotions and background, and an overall feeling of progression in an angelic underwater sense (towards Lillian). Well this is that, only it’s in the folk way.
It’s great. Some are mixed tunes, using classical instruments along with folk voice and guitar, but there is also the very different opera theme on some numbers (the “underwater sounds” at 5, 6, & 7 are more philip glass style instrumentals) without the folky touches - essentially there are two fully different genres here, but they go together just fine.

Uses variety of instruments, from marimba, glockenspiel, lap steel, various woodwinds, brass, violin + viola + double bass, organs, keys, rhodes, many different vocals and choir. Very mixed, and never excessively.
Pensive, emotional, melodious, catchy, all of that.
Similar to: (at the folk stuff) Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Jose Gonzales, Eliot Smith, Crosby Stills Nash & Young; but at the instrumental level... not sure. Philip Glass touches with maybe YoYoMa or other modern classical/worldy pieces.

FCC Clean
Favorites: 2, 4, 6&7, 11, 12, 13, 14

1: “Opening” (0:55) - Exactly that, an rise of the curtains to a folk opera, using eerie keyboards
2:*** “Lillian” (4:42) - Folky guitar with soft male vocals, lyrics about a mysterious gal. A beautiful violin and double bass, and a catchy percussion
3: “Imaginary Friends” (4:37) - Folk tune, with Lear’s soft voice backed by an equally soft female. Appears to be the artist’s pick. Pleasant, catchy, cute.
4:** “Scuba Lessons” (3:54) - Very good listen, with gradual rises in the amount of instruments (violins!), the pitch of the vocals, in ecstatic eruptions very much like classical music, but with the folk reminder never failing
5: “Underwater Sounds - the introduction” (0:53) - Away from folk, Back to the opera theme. Instrumental, very much underwater, and very good late-night suspenseful stuff
6*: “Underwater Sounds - the instrumental” (4:07) - Instrumental as you guessed. Marimba starts, leading to clarinet and violin. Definitely fit for a stage or movie, gradually getting more and more epic. Should be played just before the next track, they lead into each other, or be sure to fade out early to avoid brusque end.
7*: “Underwater Sounds - the medley” (5:43) - This is to be played just after the previous track, as the build-up erupts with brass and organ, and back into the folky touch with backing choir. Track 6 & 7 make the “folk opera” idea clear.
8: “Manihivi” (3:42) - Trumpets, choir, uplifting vocals, and organ make this very joyous folk gospel
9: “The Telling Memory” (1:31) - Builds softly for first 45 sec into a female vocal similar to Dark Dark Dark
10: “It’s a War” (3:16) - Reminds me of Fleet Foxes, lap steel mirrors vocals (mmm vibrato) with uplifting percussion and some background vocals. Good walking-out-the-door-in-the-not-sunniest-morning (you smile anyways) song
11:* “Show Me Love” (5:14) - Some ukelele? With Kaitlyn Olson’s vocals (lovely), uplifting and catchy, a duet begins (Lap steel again) at halfway with the return of Lear’s voice. lovebird song. indiefolk
12:* “Silver Water (Must Be the Great Plastiki)” (3:58) - Softer, more melancholic. Eliot Smith similarities, deep clarinet, choir and trumpets come in nicely to cheer it up
13:** “David’s Song (There is not such a places exists)” (5:57) - Marimba, tenor sax, violin, deep drum, and a new male vocal (Robert Francis). Deeper, less melancholy but still nostalgic, a very nice one, Lear comes back in a high-frenzy, and it continues in a great epic duet
14:** “Just Plain Dead (Closing)” (6:53) - Very quiet folk guitar for first 2 min, then into a Neil Young style with the vocals, chords, piano, and percussion. Quiets out half way as if in a goodbye, but returns in encore with energy in vocals, brass, tenor sax - a finale to the folk opera show!

Track Listing
1.Opening 8.Manehivi
2.Lillian 9.The Telling Memory
3.Imaginary Friends 10.It's A War
4.Scuba Lessons 11.Show Me Love
5.Underwater Sounds - The Introduction 12.Silver Water (Must Be The Great Plastiki)
6.Underwater Sounds - The Instrumental 13.David's Song (There Is Not Such A Place Exists)
7.Underwater Sounds - The Medley 14.Just Plain Dead (Closing)