For Ben Union, his songs are his “babies” and he has lovingly crafted his first album, VAMP, with the help of producer Liz Scarlett of Fame Riot fame at Dust Funk studios and mastered by Mark Simmons at Tacoma’s Pacific Studios with additional production by Ben and Rob Daiker. The result: a tight seven-song set that carries wave after wave of repeated musical hooks. It shimmers and sizzles in every track, a taught set that travels from ballad to R&B to soul to reggae and funk, with a bit of lo-fi sprinkled in to create a refreshing rock piece that’s destined to become a hit.
Ben is a blue-collar man, who has written and performed all the tracks here. His music is honest, pointing out a heart-wrenching song about love lost or lies you tell yourself, each with panache and style. In his press release he likens his offering here as “…a stiff R&B/Soul/Alt-Rock cocktail in a dirty glass, just sweet enough to make you order it again.” And it does just that.
Union is a deliberate songwriter and has spent the last three years working on this collection. The production emphasizes his vocals more than instruments, taking a page from the late Prince’s playbook.
His favorite tracks include “Get High” which starts out with a tasty synth hook and a tribal chant, “Hey, hey! Do you wanna get high with me?” and breaks into a funky rhythm, telling a novice to relax and just go with it, calling on a more universal concept of euphoria than that just limited to a substance as the song progresses.
“Tough Love” calls up Man-infused love lessons layered over Funky Soul-Brother drums and beat, while “STOP” is a song the tingles with feelings and emotions of love in the air. It just feels right to stop and pick up the phone to announce his affection of a true love. “Shake That Ass” is a pure funk anthem about letting loose after a long period of hard work to go party and feel the heat.
On “Chain Of Love”, the album’s first single (listen below), Union uses a ballad style to talk about a love grown cold. Tough questions here about love but there’s an element of the tune that leaves the listener hopeful that things may work out, if the plaintive singer of the piece can just give and receive honesty from their object of affection.
Pick this one up on 17 January when it’s released! You’ll love it as much as I did…it’s growing more wonderful on each listen.
(You can also follow the band on Facebook and click on the play button below to stream “Chain of Love” from the album.)