Story by Colton O’Reilly
Photos by Claire Miglionico
Benjamin Longman is a London-born singer-songwriter that has made an important impact on the city of Calgary and its music scene. His new album, The Garden of Song, holds six rare flowers within its musical garden – five of which are aged poems discovered by Longman, the other is an original tune to round out a track-listing of some heartfelt writers.
“I entered a small second-hand bookshop on Greenwich South Street named Halcyon Books,” Longman explains. Greenwich, the town where Longman was born, held ‘An Anthology of Poems and Lyrics,’ which was eventually re-imagined into ‘The Garden of Song’.
Longman is an artist with an attention to fine detail, whether it’s growing cucumbers in his backyard, taking striking photos of motorcycles and faces, or crafting all parts of an album. In his previous releases, Longman paired original art with each piece of music, along with the chords and lyrics to play along with. This type of effort comes from within, from an artist who truly believes in their work, and somewhere deep down must believe that this piece of art can, and will, make an impact in someway. Longman deemed that these would be the poems he would take time with to be shared, orchestrated, and recorded.
The album is lovely to listen to from beginning to end; each and every track is unique and has been molded into its own. One track that really stood out was titled ‘Grew a Rosebud’. It has an atmospheric string section that enters the song immediately and creates a wistfully beautiful scene. Along with Longman’s precise finger picking, this track allows the listener to sink deeply into its comforting melodies, and leaves space between the vocal sections to dream. ‘Remember or Forget’ is the single, as well as the opening track. In it, there is a line that goes: “‘tis madness to remember, ‘tis wisdom to forget.” Sit with this lyric a moment, as this song encourages a thoughtful musical break after the line is sung. Following, is the uplifting and upbeat ‘Let Me Dream Again,’ which has a subtle twang that makes this track stand out amongst the other flowers nicely. ‘Was It You Who Loved To Little’ brings things down a few notches and has a somber tale throughout it that really pulls at all six guitar heart-strings. ‘Times Garden’ might be Longman’s biggest track as the song really ramps up as he belts out the words with might and passion. Lastly, his original tune ‘Jasmine:’ a soft and beautiful lullaby with vocal accompaniment by talented musical comrade Jesse Shire.
I attended the release of the album on June 2, 2018, which was a stunning display of art, atmosphere, and beauty. The mighty and dynamic Amy Nelson opened the night with her humor and her darkness, both of which were gratefully appreciated by everyone. With the sound of birds chirping in the background and a live garden projected onto the wall behind the musicians, The Garden of Song has now blossomed into a beautiful memory. The music will allow these poems and lyrics to live on forever in a place where they might never have been heard.
“So now that spring in Western Canada has finally arrived, come and smell the flowers with me in The Garden Of Song.”
Visit Benjamin Longman on his website.