With a voice of awe-inspiring force coupled with impeccable songwriting abilities, Melbourne artist Ben Power showcases haunting layers of sonics on his debut EP, ‘Drink Like a God’.
Released late last month, ‘Drink Like a God’ draws you in from the very first note, championed by Ben Power’s deep resonating voice, heartfelt, poetic lyrics and beautiful yet melancholy melodies, leaving you hanging on his every word throughout the duration of the five-track EP.
Like a Dionysian Prayer to late-night lust, to dreams, to longing for home and to drinking for the muse, the EP sees Power capitalising on ballad driven basics and sleeve wearing heartbeats of his songwriting, presenting it all in a baroque, sensitive and dark and starkly romantic form.
Sitting somewhere between Nick Cave and The National, influences from the great seventies’ songwriters surge and flourish throughout the EP, with particular nods to The Doors, Lou Reed, Lee Hazlewood, Big Star and The Stones. Resulting in a similar gothic tone as Oliver Peck and Chris Isaak, the EP feels classic without being anachronistic.
With the help of Rohan Sforcina, a Melbourne producer most known for his work with Bernard Fanning, Kate Miller Heidke and Dune Rats, Power squeezes out textures and atmosphere track after track, showcasing his diverse vocal range, both in intensity and tone.
“I’ve made a few great decisions in my life and one of them was choosing to work with Rohan Sforcina at Headgap,” Power explains.
“As soon as I walked into the studio, I knew he was the right Producer for me. I had over 50 demos to choose from, so we decided to make an LP and spent ten days recording in 2020 but a year later, I couldn’t stand behind all the songs anymore.
“There were too many typically tortured singer-songwriter dirges that I needed to write, I need to record but I didn’t need to release to the world, so I decided to ditch half the songs and release it as an EP.”
Across the EP there are moments of sheer beauty, from the dappled summer sheen of opener ‘California’, to the stark piano ballad highlight of ‘Jessica’, and the arresting and devastating ‘My Love’, full of pace and threat as Power reflects on a personal battle with addiction. The showstopping standout is the title track ‘Drink Like a God’, a tribute to the women that have run free with Power in the dark all these years. Signifying the perfect bookend to this chapter, the spellbinding stripped-down moments of closing track ‘Light A Candle’ resonate with just as much power, letting every noise and instrument breathe and expand naturally.
Recorded live between lockdowns with the help of acclaimed singer-songwriter Brendan Welsh on Piano and Matt Erickson on lead guitar, ‘Drink Like a God’ radiates authentic energy and all-encompassing sound, one that can only be made possible with everyone playing together at once.
“It’s funny I’m not sure we ever even discussed it, it was just assumed that’s what we would do,” Power says about the live recording.
“Rohan who is the ex-drummer for Oh Mercy played the drums on the record and so we’d set up, listen to the demo of whatever song we were working on, then all just jump in and play and find the song together.
“I’ve been in the studio and worked alone layering tracks but I don’t know why anyone that could do it live, wouldn’t do it live, it’s just so much more fun and allows for a little magic to enter the room.”
For Power, the road to the EP has been a canvas of circles and waves, ups and downs, highs and lows. With childhood dreams of being a poet, a 10-year journey trying to break into the screenwriter and novelist world, and a shattering realisation of feeling lost in life, it was music that would be the turning point of finding out who he truly was and what he truly wanted to do.
“Five years ago, I was living in L.A, in the middle of a pitch meeting with a Producer for a project that was all but mine and I felt completely lost. I’d chased this dream [to become a screenwriter and novelist] all the way to the finish line and I didn’t like any of the people around me, I had no love for what I was doing and I felt like a puppet performing as myself,” Power explains.
“So, I headed back to Australia and bunkered down at my mum’s place in Bendigo for six months. Before I’d left, I’d sold everything I own bar some records, a stack of books and an acoustic guitar that had basically been in its case for ten years.
“I started writing songs again and for the last five years, that’s all I’ve done, locked in a room writing and singing every day, building up to the release of my first EP.”
Despite a fractured journey, Power’s was one of self-discovery and creation, leading him to compose music and lyrics that blend in a way that they seem to melt into each other; narratives brought to life by rich vocals that wrap themselves around each instrument.
Powerful, honest and hauntingly beautiful, ‘Drink Like a God’ is a marvel of musicianship and a showcase for truly remarkable lyrics and tone.
This EP is not the sort you can instantly fall in love with. Rather, Power’s stellar songwriting, subtle charms, effortless croons and melancholy vibrato slowly reveal themselves more and more with each subsequent listen.
Listen to the EP below.