To say Ben Drew has gone through an incredible transformation is now almost a cliche, but in simple English there are no other words to explain it. From his debut `Who Needs Actions, When You Got Words' back in 2006, we've gone from the angry, young londoner to a modern, spotless reenactment of one of the biggest musical movements in history.
Concept albums are hard to come by in the world of pop, Mike Skinner only being the notable artist in hip-hop to achieve that, with good effect in `A Grand Don't Come For Free' and whilst the tales of Strickland Banks aren't quite as lyrically moving and mind-blowing, the journey is still a joy to listen to. Following a love-struck fictional man, who ends up in prison has never been so fun and toe-tappingly good.
In his most sucessful release of the album thus far `She Said' captures the pleading of Strickland in a court case, the sound track to that so warmful with the blowing of sax and ever-so-light strings. Prior to that, his next single release `Stay Too Long', upbeat as far as the album is concerned, is a step on from the opening singles `Love Goes Down' and `Writing's on the Wall', almost Lionel Ritchie-esque. To mention these songs in the same breath as such an artist, really is a tribute to Plan B.
It doesn't stop there, further displaying is magical ability to sing as well as spitfire harsh lyrics. `The Recluse' without a doubt, is the absolute pinnacle of his work, instantly launching us into the song title and mesmorising violins. The third single release of the album `Prayin' is another example of his soulful works, eclipsing other attempts to capture the sound of the 60's, from artists `Duffy' and `VV Brown'. If you hadn't felt the northern soul influences yet, then `Free' will timewarp you into the Wigan Casino without a doubt, in an almost impossible-not-to-dance record, tinted with a subtle vinyl crackle for effect.
This album, if anything really begs the question - is there a genre of music this boy can't touch and master? Thus far, the answer is no. A truly incredible piece of modern artwork.