Record Review: Ben Montague – Back into Paradise

By Julia Prigmore 

Back Into Paradise is precisely where Kentish-born Ben Montague’s fourth studio album will transport you to – as each earnest song carries you through his musical journey.

Ben kicks things off with the infectious title track, showcasing his raw vocals with an anthemic, passionate chorus. This, combined with a powerful orchestral and choral accompaniment builds to a compelling finish. It’s got all the ingredients for a summer hit.

Each track is charming in its own way. ‘We Start Over’ has a slightly more melancholic vibe, paired with elegant strings and a heartfelt hook. Ben’s husky tones on the anecdotal ‘Gonna Love Again’ are coupled perfectly with twinkly piano, even if it ends rather abruptly once the flowing and soothing ‘woahh oh woahh’ chant ends as quickly as it begins.

This record sees Montague working alongside some revered producers. The likes of Peter-John Vettese (Tom Odell, James Bay) worked on producing the album and co-writer Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran) lends his touch to the storming ‘Serendipity’, a refreshing track that stands out from the others on Back Into Paradise, with its rock-leaning guitar and tribal rhythms. Nonetheless, one can’t help but notice occasional similarities in his vocals to other current pop artists – Ed Sheeran, Ben Howard and James Bay, in particular, especially through ‘Another Chance’ and ‘Looking for Love’.

However, it’s perhaps best to consider ‘Serendipity’ as a warm-up to ‘The Meaning’ which offers another dimension to the album, bringing heavy beats and some much-needed riffs. As the record’s most out-there track, Montague confesses a previous uncertainty as to whether the song would fit alongside the material on the completed album. But the gamble was worth it; Montague has given rock his best shot, and in this case he’s nailed it.

A self-confessed Foo Fighters fan (“I’m a big, big fan of The Foo’s and Dave Grohl”, he states on his website), Montague rounds off the album with a brave cover of the Foo Fighters’ ‘Best Of You’. To Ben’s credit, he transforms the track into a whole new beast. Gentle yet earnest strings and piano replaces the original riffs, while his sincere vocals reflect the urgency and concern in the lyrics. It wouldn’t feel out of place on a Disney soundtrack. Would Dave Grohl approve? We’re a little unsure. It also makes for another sudden, abrupt ending, feeling ill-placed at the end of the album. Back Into Paradise is a blissfully articulate effort on the whole, but not without its rougher edges.

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