Benjamin Francis Leftwich is set to release his third album 'Gratitude' this Friday (March 15) via Dirty Hit Records.
The York songwriter has spent the last several years experimenting with a more modern sound following the release of two critically acclaimed albums - 'Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm' (2011) and 'After The Rain' (2016) - which successfully mined the traditional singer/songwriter format. Leftwich's 2011 breakthrough single, Shine, has since gone on to amass over 120 million streams on Spotify.
Following the success of 'After Rain's singles (such as Tilikum), Leftwhich embarked on a series of stand-alone releases and unexpected covers - including Placebo's Pure Morning and Arcade Fire's Rebellion - before returning with a new sound in 2018 with original compositions, including Gratitude the title track from his third release.
To celebrate the release of 'Gratitude' we asked Benjamin Francis Leftwich to make a playlist of tracks that have influenced his journey as a musician. He chose an eclectic mix of tracks, from I Am Kloot to U2, from Brolly to The Blue Nile, from The 1975 to Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper.
Leftwich will be in Dublin for a show in The Button Factory on March 21st. Tickets €18. Leftwich also plays Empire Music Hall, Belfast on March 24th Tickets £18. Support on both nights comes from Rosie Carney.
Have a listen to his playlist below and keep scrolling to find out why he picked each song.
Goldfrapp - A&E
I loved this song from the second I heard it. When I listen to it I feel like I’m in some kind of magical underwater whirlwind in an emergency room.
I Am Kloot - Proof
A true heartbreaker from Manchester's finest. This song soundtracked a lot of my '20s, and I find so much identification in the lyric and irony of talking about the so-called dream life in a hotel room and all the mad indulgences referenced.
Bat For Lashes - Laura
Probably my favourite ballad of all time. A stunningly kind, compassionate song that for me references this mad dangerous dream creatives are sold, and the dangerous trap that we can fall into of feeling like our artistic output is the whole summary of our existence and identity. Deeply moving.
The Beatles - Let It Be
I was so lucky to grow up in a house where The Beatles songs were always on. They were the first songs I ever obsessively fell in love with. Re-listening to the song as an adult kind of reminds to try and live in the moment and stop chasing fixes.
Fleetwood Mac - Silver Springs
Not one of the most popular Fleetwood Mac songs, but a truly powerful one. I saw them perform this live in Sydney many years ago and immediately fell in love with it. The lyric “You’re shining on an ocean crashing” really gets me.
The 1975 - Me
My brothers at Dirty Hit and one of my all time favourite bands. “I got a plane in the middle of the night” makes me think of all the mad sacrifices and the pain of touring incessantly and everything we loose sight of and leave behind on the wave, and all the mental extreme highs and lows on the ride…
The Blue Nile - I Would Never
My all time favourite band ever. There is so much strength and clarity in the performance and the lyric… “I would never turn my back on your love.” On paper such a straight lyric… but the production and overall energy just lets this hit so hard. Truly amazing.
The Japanese House - Lilo
Our blessed big sister at Dirty Hit. One of the best new artists out there in my opinion. I feel like Amber creates with a very rare, truly selfless and compassionate energy. “Gemma told me that she’d met someone, it was the person I was counting on. It felt good, it felt transitional” I really think this level of honesty and pure love in this song is truly genius, and a light for us all.
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper - Shallow
I was really moved by this song from the movie “A Star Is Born”. I think it’s full of tolerance and understanding around the addiction issue in a relationship between a man and a woman. It’s been so long since I heard a song with such simple arrangement but that hits so deep. This really got me, and reminded me that Lady Gaga is truly one of the great songwriters of our generation.
U2 - With Or Without You
Again, one of my all time favourite songs. So raw and honest. This song reminds me of my own issues with addiction and the madness of it. Whether it’s peoples' addiction to people, drugs, social media, sex, places and things… I hear it in this song. So stunning. “You give it all but I want more.”
Foy Vance - Indiscriminate Act Of Kindness
Foy Vance is one of the true legends and greats of this generation of singer/songwriters, I think. I first heard this song when i was 14 and i think it shone a light for me and helped me realise… “Okay Ben, it’s fine to be kind and vulnerable and emotional and caring in your lyrics”. A truly moving song about caring for and making space for somebody down on their luck.
David Gray - This Year’s Love
What can I say…a classic heartbreaker. The album 'White Ladder' was a really special, inspiring album for me, and I don’t think there’s a bad song on it. I think to write a love song this clear is hard, but this is done so right, with so much warmth and love.
Rosie Carney - Orchid
We are blessed to have our beautiful gifted sister Rosie coming on tour with us in the UK & EU. I’ve known Rosie for years since we jammed together a while back. Watching her move through music with such grace and strength has been truly inspiring, and the honest album that she wanted to make is here, and wonderful. A gift.
Fenne Lily - Three Oh Nine
The big boss Fenne Lily. I’ve been lucky enough to play some shows with Fenne over the past few years. A truly unique and amazing writer, doing exactly her own thing, and singing like a legend the whole time. I remember driving to a morning radio in Holland at 5am and hearing Fenne singing live at 6am, with pure focus and greatness, was amazing.. and slightly daunting.
Brolly - Hollow Home Rd
I am lucky enough to get given a lot of music to listen to while out on tour. Jake (Brolly) have me his demo CD in San Francisco in 2012 and I immediately fell in love with this song. We have become very close friends over the years and Jake normally joins us on tour in the US. One of my all time favourite songwriters and people. A truly blessed songwriter and man.