Enigmatic and poignant third album from Ben Cramer which ponders leaving your twenties behind.
Old Sea Brigade is the alias used by Ben Cramer under which he and his friends make music. Having turned 30 in 2021, his third full length album is in many ways a nostalgic look back at life in your twenties, when the after effects of the night before are recovered from quickly and the possibilities appear to be endless. It’s also a record about becoming older and hopefully wiser, accepting that life isn’t perfect and that there are always some things in the past which could have been done differently.
The title track is ‘5AM Paradise’, which Cramer says, “covers what this record is all about. It’s about having your first cup of coffee and enjoying the fact that you’re not sleeping in or waking up with a hangover”. The guitars and the sympathetically used synthesizers rise in a crescendo romanticising the early morning and the responsibilities of adulthood.
With it’s quivering guitar loop, the intro to ‘Man Made By Delusion’ sounds a little like it could be an outtake from Wilco’s ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’. The song opens with Cramer singing ‘I’m a man made by delusion, I wake with dream in hands’, it’s enigmatic stuff. Cramer did not deliberately set out to write a coming-of-age album, the theme seems to have gradually emerged. Cramer says that, “I’m one of those songwriters where sometimes I’ll write a song and I’ll have no idea what it means”. ‘Monochrome’, which was co-written with Trent Dabbs, was one of those songs where the title, according to Cramer, “appeared out of nowhere”.
‘Old Blooded’ has hints of The National about, it’s a song which wouldn’t be out of place on ‘Boxer’. In the impassioned chorus Cremer sings, ‘Old blooded, Slow flooded, Can we figure a way back out, More worry, Less money, We know everything comes around’. The subject of the song is inscrutable, it could be about a second chance at reviving a relationship or maybe it’s about musing on missed opportunities.
The album ends with ‘Hands In The Dirt’. The resounding and sympathetic chorus brings the record back to childhood, with Cramer singing, ‘Remember falling asleep, With your hair in the wind, Back of your grandmother’s car, She held your life in her hands, Somethings we don’t understand’. It juxtapositions the security of childhood with the heartache that life can bring. However, as Cramer says, “No matter how depressing things might get at times, I saw that there was a light at the end of the tunnel”. It’s a fitting way to end this record.