Soft Watches & Altered States
On Soft Watches & Altered States, Ben Gordon explores the idiosyncrasies of perception and how they change with the passage of time with an acute self-awareness. In memorable songs about young love, he conjures vivid images and subtle emotions with a highly literate approach to songwriting. References to art, literature, and music abound. "Plena Mujer, Manzana Carnal, Luna Caliente" is a hat tip to Pablo Neruda, "When I Say, 'I Love You Madly'" alludes to Italian philosopher Umberto Eco, and "Before You Drift Off..." imagines a romantic encounter as a surreal painting of Salvador Dali. Gordon meticulously constructs his songs, maintaining a focus on intelligent, original lyrics that is evident in the material. Each song invites repeated listening to catch every detail, rewarding the listener as the multiple layers show themselves. "I'll Never Forget Whatshername," a lamentation on loss and displacement, showcases his rhyming talent, as he casually incorporates phrases like "turn these lights on," "dirty nylon," and "thirties icon." Gordon also demonstrates his ability to write a moving ballad on the beautiful "Elyria" and the cosmic "Stars Of Vermont." Underneath the intricate rhymes and detached observations, there remains a feeling of hopefulness and optimism. On "Are You Ready For Star Time?" the album's epic closer, Gordon sings, "I won't relent,/I won't go quietly," reminding the listener that even an altered state of consciousness can't impede the power of a strong will.