Ben Braden of The Lower 48 has recently released a solo album, Leaves of Trash which he produced almost completely on his own with his iPad. Bandmate Nick Sadler chipped in for some background vocals and percussion on a couple song. The title is a playful allusion to Walt Whitman — and the songs have a Rubber Soul feel to them. The lyrics, sometimes light and fun, sometimes sad and heartbreaking are very personal and feel true to the artist. The loss of a love always seems to invoke beautiful music, and in Ben’s case it has resulted in some of the best songs he has written to date.
“Yellow Birds” has a happy Beatle-esque feel to it, and it’s clear Ben knows his influences and really runs with them. The sparse simplicity of this song makes it sound like it was recorded in the sixties, not on a mic on an iPad. The song is the brightest of the bunch and is one of those tracks that you have to hit repeat on.
“Long Gone” is a morose, wistful breakup song. Like the broken record of regrets that repeat in your head over and over after a lost love. “See You No More” is more of a positive (almost cheerful) break up song, looking back with fondness. “You Gotta Wait” has that fuzzy Velvet Underground sound that Lou Reed created and is a nice homage to the legend. “So Bitter” is a tune full of fleeting imagery of a missed ex that cuts to the bone. Ben’s light guitar work on this track contrasts the somber lyric “How sad and strange is this life to meet you in the morning, but never say goodnight/How dark and cold it can be to love someone truly but screw it up eventually.” Like a flickering flame about to go out, the song has this rhythmic quality to it that makes you pay attention.
Ben Braden really bares his soul in this solo album. There is poetry in the lyrics that we don’t see much in Portland anymore. He played a few of these songs at Kelly’s Olympian earlier this month in a singer-songwriter showcase and said that “It felt good to get them out of his living room.” We look forward to hearing him play them again real soon.