Reviews & Quotes
“These guys came to me once they had their 2013 Americana appearances confirmed and when I heard the songs I said “yes!” This is a very special band and the world will be hearing more of them soon.”
Producer, Engineer, Guitarist, Writer &
President, Americana Music Association, Nashville TN
“I saw this trio play an intimate, little gig a while back, and their harmonies and writing ability really moved me. They give a new edge to old-time country and bluegrass styles which both have a special place in my heart. They are all wonderfully talented musicians whose talents and personalities really complement one another on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them live, and would definitely recommend catching one of their shows.”
“I produced a track with Breaking Hart Benton at my recording studio. At that time I had a chance to listen to their previous work and get a sense of them as songwriters… and I would have to say that these guys will be a group to watch out for.”
Hugh McDonald (Redgum), Songwriter and Producer
“Their music is the sound of old wooden verandahs and open fields, bush tracks and country sunsets. There is an Appalachian tinge without it quite being an obvious influence. Their songs are evocative and thought-provoking, and they are wrapped in the most beautiful gossamer of interwoven violin, banjo and harmony vocals. Like some unlikely synthesis of acoustic music past and present, BHB challenge your awareness of their backgrounds. This is contemporary folk music thrown into the future.”
Ewan MacKenzie, Folk Rag
“Weaving an elegant line through Celtic and Australian folk and more distinctly American forms of folk and bluegrass, Breaking Hart Benton have conjured a striking original tone. After releasing an independent EP and single, the Aussie trio approached Mark Moffatt to produce their debut in Nashville. Moffatt, now President of the Americana Music Association, has produced some landmark releases over the years, including The Saints’ (I’m) Stranded and Yothu Yindi’s Tribal Voice. But his true love has remained the unique mix of blues, folk and country of the South and he does a fine job in allowing this trio’s personality to shine. Both Lee James and Michael David have distinctive voices, Lee coming across a little like an Australian Tom Petty on songs like ‘See My Good Side’ (which features some breathtaking pedal steel from Scotty Sanders). Lee contributes banjo, Michael guitar and Jen Mize mandolin, and the three harmonise to powerful effect. Drums and bass fill out the sound sparingly on record.
While the rich personality of this band is what strikes the listener immediately, it’s the depth of material that will have him/her returning for more. Ranging from the affecting title track, to the Dylan-like ‘Voltaire’s Rhapsody’, to the trad bluegrass folk of ‘Red Eyed Girls’, the songwriting is compelling from go to whoa.”
Martin Jones, Editor, Rhythms Magazine
“Perhaps it was some kind of fate or maybe it was just pure luck that I walked into a bar last week and happened to run into a friend who convinced me to stay and watch some bands, but either way I’m so glad the gods of music smiled on me once again and introduced me to the wonderful Breaking Hart Benton.
The name should probably be the first hint that this is music that’s going to be emotional, sometimes fun, sometimes tear inducing but always heartfelt. They call themselves indie/folk but there’s a little more to it than that. Somehow Michael David and Lee James make music with history, it sounds like it could be right at home in a cosy Irish or eastern American pub 100 years ago and yet it’s also right at home in a dark little Brisbane bar in 2012. Just a combination of guitar and banjo, fiddle, vocals and some serious foot stomping,
Although I saw a stripped back band on Friday night, it seems things get even better when Michael and Lee are joined by sometimes band members Alice McDowell (who I was lucky enough to see for a couple of songs on Friday night) and Shani Forrester; whose vocals on ‘Everybody’s Lonesome’ are eerily beautiful and create a song that insists on being played over and over. The lyrics on ‘Gilding Lilies’ are exquisite, doing that thing that amazing music does, making the listener question, well, almost life in it’s entirety ; “when you find what you’re looking for, you got it all but you still want more, well I found my treasure in the valley of sin, but I wasn’t satisfied with everything”. ‘Grandfathers Hands’ is a story that sounds like it needs to be told, it’s a tale that could be played for years and years, completely timeless. Their self-titled EP is introspective but not self-indulgent; it’s sometimes heart breaking but hopeful, it’s raw and unpolished yet so well thought and that’s what makes it refreshing all the same.
Breaking Hart Benton make beautiful music that doesn’t need an amp, doesn’t need auto tuning and doesn’t need much except a big heart to sing and a big heart to listen to. This is a band that seems like they need to travel, to share their stories; they need to share their incredible talent for playing live music and making their audience feel a part of those stories.
Sometimes fate does you favours, like it did for me last week. If it happens to take you on a walk to a bar where they are playing or to a website where you can discover more, don’t ignore it. Here’s fate, on this blog, right now, telling you who this fabulous little folk band are. Let it take you to another place far away and lose yourself in the splendour that is Breaking Hart Benton for a little while.”
Jo Michelmore, Its My Kind of Scene
“The world-weary folk music that Breaking Hart Benton espouse on their debut EP is at once fastidiously composed and exquisitely gloomy. A cursory internet search reveals that Hart Benton was a naturalist who rejected technological advancement, and it’s clear to see that this philosophy underpins the band’s organic approach.
Consequently the recording feels a little unpolished, but this just adds to the rustic aesthetic. With a banjo and a fiddle as mainstays, the tunes are atmospherically antiquated and feel like the repertoire of a travelling bard.Similarly there is a literary quality to the lyrics on Everybody’s Lonesome that make you realise that this EP isn’t just a casual experiment in songwriting, but an all-encompassing work of art.”
Pete Walsh, Rave Magazine
“A quieter, perhaps more purist, brook of folk. But with an Appalachian plaintive quality that just makes you want to soak it all in.
There are voices in quiet conversation as the fiddle and banjo and such flow and meander through it.
These are people who’ve gone beyond fashion and are making music they seem to genuinely feel. As it happens, this music comes in a period where it has some favour, which is a good thing for purveyors such as these.
I shall now sit quietly and listen to it again and simply enjoy it for its own sake.”
Ross Clelland, Drum Media
“Breaking Hart Benton. Definitely a strange name for a band” I thought while the CD spun up on my audition player. Maybe so but it stands out and so does the potential I heard lurking in the music that emanated from the headphones. This young group from Queensland have a refreshingly old approach to new music.
None of the self-indulgent lyrics that are way too common in unknown songwriters. Common enough themes I guess but it is hard to be totally original now days. The thing is though they’re infused with a feeling of having been through the heydays of folk and truly free thinking popular music.
From the almost random imagery of ‘Everybody’s Lonesome’ to the apparent harmonic references to the ‘Grateful Dead’ that hang about in the background of ‘My Michelle,’ I was intrigued. Oddly enough the 6 track, self-titled EP takes a couple of songs to get to these more up tempo peaks but it’s worth taking the climb and enjoying the descent down the closing tracks. I’m sure my listeners did too.
With banjo and fiddle woven deftly into the arrangements I suspect that once freed from the fetters of the studio this bunch let it rip live; something I look forward to finding out for myself.