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Album Review: Benjamin Clementine – At Least For Now

2 min read

At Least For Now is deceptively simple, yet exceedingly powerful. Often consisting of nothing more than Benjamin Clementine’s vocals alongside a piano, it acts more like a showcase for his poetic lyrics and soulful voice than anything else. When strings or a drum beat do back him up, they rarely feel even feel necessary: Even with the bare minimum of components making up a song, Clementine manages to convey his talent and artistry without any major faltering moments. Given the simple arrangements, it’s much to Clementine’s credit that the album remains so engaging in its entirety.

Benjamin Clementine At Least For NowSongs on the album almost never fall below the four minute mark, often leaning towards six; while this could be dangerous for such a deceptively subtle style with few instruments in the repertoire, it successfully eases you into the stricter minimalist section with the drum beats and strings of the self-referential Winston Churchill’s Boy and London, before hitting the a capella interlude St Clementine on Tea and Croissants which signals the album’s minimal half. Fittingly, the final track of this section, Adios, is also the most erratic, slowly building into an arrangement full of strings and eventually dipping into a monologue and leading into an operatic arrangement, before the song comes full circle at its end.

Throughout the album, Clementine’s lyricism is the driving force, conveying a range of emotions and detailing events sometimes relating to his own personal history, not always matching up with the melody of the music but instead gliding alongside it, which may take some getting used to. The references to his own self-discovery on Winston Churchill’s Boy are the most apparent and striking, but the album features many moments worth paying close attention to in order to unravel their meaning.

That being said, At Least For Now isn’t an album for everyone. It requires an admiration for the piano and poetry on top of an acceptance of the unconventional vocal melodies that poetic lyrics can lead to. If you’re craving something poetic or piano-centric, then At Least For Now is definitely worth your time. It’s hard to find a writer or a vocalist better suited to this style than Benjamin Clementine, and his sheer talent makes the innate inaccessibility of the album worth attempting to overcome.