Listen to this track by melancholic British acoustic pop duo Ben & Jason. It’s “Widow’s Walk”, the lead track off of their 1999 record Emoticons. If you’re detecting that classic, Nick Drake vibe coming off of this track, it might be because Drake string-arranger and school friend Robert Kirby was called upon to write up the charts for the strings on this song.
Of course it helps that Ben & Jason worked well together to take that Nick Drake sound, and mix it with a late ’90s British rock sound. Ben Parker (vocals and guitar) and Jason Hazeley (keyboards) had put out a record in 1998, Hello, which locked into that moodier rock space that seemed to follow the chirpy irony of Brit-pop. The duo’s acoustic pop and chamber pop leanings created the same sort of overcast atmosphere as, say “No Surprises”, or “Lucky” from Radiohead, yet with enough pop elements to invite less gravity.
Yet, there was more to this collaboration than met the eye, stylistically speaking. Read more