Like most artists, with decimated plans of extensive touring, including trips to the US and Europe, 2020 and 2021 saw Newcastle-based Ben Leece with an open calendar and plenty of time to rethink the road ahead. Now, after 12 months in limbo, he is set to release two Eps – Skywatching and Marrow Gold.
So why two EPs instead if a good old-fashioned album? Well, they can be seen as both a nod to the past and the future. Skywatching was produced by Shane Nicholson, who produced Ben’s flawless debut LP, No Wonder The World I Exhausted. It was originally an album project but according to Ben, “Coming into the second album, I had a much clearer idea of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to sound like and whilst I love the songs and they sound great, something was missing.’ As a result, he decided to walk away.
He’s right they do sound great – so much so, that 3 of the tracks (Magpie, Pigeons and Sundowner) have already been released as highly acclaimed singles – but it turns out he was looking for a more band-focused effort.
Marrow Gold sets the scene for what’s to come. The EP was recorded live at Golden Retriever Studios in Sydney under the direction of producer Adam Young and engineer Tim Whitten. Young and Whitten’s previous effort was Katie Brianna’s breathtaking 2021 LP, This Way or Some Other.
“After hearing Katie Brianna’s album, I wanted to do whatever she had done. Obviously, world-class writing helps, but sonically the record is stunning. Adam & Tim did such a great job and I loved the idea of tracking as a live band in the same room” Ben brought his band, Left of The Dial, along for the ride.
Marrow Gold is the sound of an artist wanting to break some chains and push some boundaries and includes a raucous cover of Paul Weller’s Changing Man that sits perfectly alongside the eponymous lead single from the release and yet another astonishing Leece original, Eddie (the two later tracks feature Melody Pool on vocals).
The true power of Leece‘s song writing ability is captured on the acoustic tracks, The Drugs Did Exactly What They Said They’d Do (Skywatching) and Constellations (Marrow Gold). Both tracks were recorded on Ben’s iPhone and feel completely at home in the mix.
In a classic game of two halves, the twin EPs each take on a life their own, signalling the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one (expect a full album under the direction of Young and Whitten later in the year).
Skywatching + Marrow Gold out now.