Berkshires by Ben TalmiRelease date: May 20, 2022
Label: Sonder House Records
When the so-called twee rock got its limelight in the nineties, it was a sound that concentrated on the stripped-down, melody rock, driven mainly by guitars, strong melody and harmony vocals. In many ways, it shared quite a few elements with the pop rock so popular in the second half of the sixties.
Also in the vogue in that part of the decade was the so-called chamber pop, a highly arranged form that shared two elements that twee rock concentrated on, strong melody and harmony vocals.
Listening to Ben Talmi’s latest album Berkshires, you get the impression Talmi drew his musical inspiration from exactly these two sources – twee and chamber pop, weaving his lyrical short stories about his native Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Talmi even wraps all his musical and lyrical thoughts on an album cover that is part Norman Rockwell painting and part cover of Duncan Browne’s ‘Give M, Take You,’ the iconic sixties chamber pop masterpiece.
Talmi’s music here is all quite gentle voice, acoustic guitars and understated string arrangements that drive his home memory stories. Of course, if Talmi’s songwriting didn’t amount to much, it would all fall apart miserably, but the artist is able to come up with some extraordinary musical tales, like on the exquisite ‘Raplh & Mary’.
Yet that song is not just a single occurrence, as the whole (albeit brief) album flows like a carefully arranged set of musical postcards that can recall memories of practically anybody’s home.