Warming, subtle and romantic, the new album from Ben Cipolla, Casa Mia, is an absolute joy. Showcasing musical maturity, and excellent ideas, this an impressive collection of tracks from an artist who comes across very confident in his own abilities as a writer and a performer. Somewhere between Jordan Rakei, Vampire Weekend, Leon Bridges and even at times Alt-J, Cipolla blends a mixture of styles on Casa Mia, settling perfectly within his unique soulful sound and realising the potential of his artistry.
The albums opener “Palermo” sets the gentle, breezy tone which shines across the album’s to tracks. A stripped start with picked guitar’s which overlap with a distant gentle piano, Cipolla’s super relaxed, easy going vocal is given space to shine. Soulful, warming and understated the track soon introduces it’s infectious chorus before bass, drums and trumpet enter.
“Enna”, leans further into the soft soul side of Ben’s music – bopping, poetic and uplifting, comparable to Jack Johnson. Cipolla once again introduces a brilliant ear-worm chorus and some exquisite guitar work with the same guitar, bass, drums and brass filled soundscape which is prevalent across the album. Ben’s ability to tell a story and deliver complex layers of emotion through his lyrics: from romance to wistful longing is something to be admired – adding to the unique voice which give his music a luminous quality, a depth beyond the often summery, sun-kissed soundscapes which present themselves.
Track 3 “Gela” takes a similar approach, sun-kissed, uplifting and light on a track with a soft soundscape of bouncing rim shot led rhythms, plucky guitar and bass lines which create a joyous, chilled, mid-summer soundscape. Ben’s prowess as a musician and a writer is already apparent by this point. So Rich are the soundscapes and so well written are the vocal lines across the first three tracks that it’s easy to forget that this isn’t the sound of an already world famous artist, it’s incredibly impressive.
Track 4, the album’s lead single “Golden Hour” continues this trend, easy-going yet catchy and subtly intricate before introducing a string section which emphasises Cipolla’s ability to romanticise the world with his lyricism and delivery. A strong start to the album, Ben quickly creates a mood and a vibe which is continued throughout the rest of the tracks without sounding in the slightest bit forced.
Elsewhere on the album, acoustic ballad “Scilocco” contrasts the tracks which proceed it, while “Palace” returns to Ben’s bopping best and “Queen of Anagona” offers a more reflective, melancholic affair.
“Cicero” and “Lavender” once again hammer home the subtlety in Ben’s guitar playing with some beautiful, excellent moments, the latter reflecting a subtle influence of Ben Howard to Cipolla’s style. The closing track “Trekking with the Stars” polishes off the album with all the uplifting jubilance found elsewhere whilst also delivering the reflective, wistful story-telling which keeps Ben’s songwriting so compelling.
A truly remarkable collection of tracks which float over you like a gentle breeze on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon, Casa Mia is delightful. It stays within its lane, there’s no outlandish jumps into other musical realms but that’s how it should be. Cipolla knows his sound so well that it doesn’t feel forced or formulaic – every track feels natural and adds to Ben’s depth as an artist. In fact, the cohesive nature of the album, the exploration of the understated nature of his music is to be admired. Excellent musicianship, soulful vibes, ultra chilled aura. While Casa Mia is a subtle, light album, it possesses more than enough musical depth to be considered easy listening. Listen for yourself below: