I Got My Name From Rock and Roll -jcr -dlh

Brad Lindert

“Awake is the New Sleep” is Ben Lee’s reinvention. After the amazingly horrible “Hey You, Yes You” from 2002, Lee has gone back to the basis of his brilliance and added to the mix to create the spring album.
“This is an album about waking up,” says Ben. The album is filled with realizations, acceptances, and confessions. After the sterile and impersonal “Hey You, Yes You,” Lee gets personal with songs like the opening trio “Whatever It Is,” “Gamble Everything For Love,” and “Begin.” We see Lee’s pursuit for change. He finally decides to “just do it ********– whatever it is.” Then with “Gamble Everything For Love” he decides to place his heart on the line, and with “Begin” he is finally in the position to begin a new life after the past pain he’s experienced (i.e. his break up with Claire Danes). He’s “still singing / twisting new melodies, breaking arrangements /… but [he] just keeps moving.” And with “Awake Is The New Sleep” we see Lee moving in the right direction.
Then we have the radio-ready “Catch My Disease” with its “We Will Rock You” foot- stomp/hand-clap percussion. I should hate this song, but the beat and brightness of the tune makes me sing along. They may not play him on the radio, but “That’s the way I like it.”
In the standout track on the album, “Ache for You,” Lee sings a hushed love song as piano and organ are slowly added. Female backup vocals repeat as Lee sings, “You’re the secret in the back of my skull / there’s no logic, but please believe me / our love’s confusing / but it never gets dull.” The final song on the album, “The Debt Collectors,” is perfect. The pace of this acoustic song gallops along “like a racehorse in the evening.” It starts hushed, but when the chorus hits we hear Lee belt out notes we never thought he could hit. What honesty can we find in this song? Check these lines out: “and I can write my way / out of this pain” and “one day it’ll be alright again.”
This is by far Ben Lee’s most eclectic album to date. It has quiet folk songs like he wrote for 1997’s “Something To Remember Me By.” There are electronic folk dance songs like 1999’s amazing “Breathing Tornados.” And he still finds time to try the world of pop rock. This is a great album for the spring and summer that are to come. But you don’t have to take my word for it; my dad says he prefers this album to Joni Mitchell’s “Blue.

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