home listen reviews artists a-z
vesper + ben


All This Could Kill You is the perfect rainy day album. Somber and intricate, this debut LP by husband and wife team Ben + Vesper goes just right with an afghan knitted by grandma and a hot glass of green tea.

This art school graduate duo had been working on their own projects for years before deciding to join forces and send their demo to Daniel Smith, the leader of the quirky folk collective Danielson Famile, which helped to launch the career of indie darling Sufjan Stevens. Smith not only agreed to produce their album, he also brought in many of the Famile, including Stevens, Daniel's wife Elin, and his brother David, to help fill out the album's sounds. Bring in two longtime friends of Ben and these 13 songs are truly an intimately friendly affair.

As Ben + Vesper sing duets about buying snacks for their kids and having the electricity turned off when they didn't pay their bill, Smith's crew adds to the sparse, touching refrains with jangly banjos, fuzzy organs, and humming oboes, all topped off with Smith's blend of organic collage of production sounds. The duo's voices complement each other well: Vesper's is sweet and raspy while Ben's is bellowing and low.

All This Could Kill You plays more like one large connected piece with momentary pauses than an album consisting of 13 separate songs. While the entirety is decidedly melancholy, there are moments of glee like in "Rockaway TWP," a sing-songy piano-dittied tune backed by accordion, about cleaning up the house and wanting to live in the country. Other notable moments come in "The Floridian," a minor-keyed sweeping lament on the mechanical ways of day-to-day life.

Nuanced textures combined with smart song-crafting and first-rate musicianship make All This Could Kill You an impressive debut that's incredibly easy to listen to. A balance of equal parts hope and regret, Ben + Vesper know how to sooth you after a bad day. They've been there, after all.
• Katy Henriksen

"straight lines aren't everything"

return to covers       listen to clips       buy it here or here

myspace.com/benandvesper       benandvesper.com

soundsfamilyre.com (their label)

more about vesper (solo music & illustration) at her site

puremusic home