Ben Stevenson
Cara Cara

by Jim Di Gioia

September 27, 2017

Cara Cara Ben Stevenson

Ben Stevenson sends us musical postcards from his journey on Cara Cara.


In a recent conversation with CBC Music, singer-songwriter Ben Stevenson explained that the personal journey of discovery he embarked on while making his debut album, Cara Cara, taught him that music creation is “…a path, and there is no destination.” He states “I had spent a long time making these decisions to be myopic, to limit my own creativity.” Cara Cara is Stevenson’s attempt “…to find my way out of that and to go to all the places I’d like to go with my material.”

Stare long enough at the abstract geometrics on Cara Cara’s album art, and the overlapping circles pitched at the upper point of a dark triangle begin to resemble a roadway spreading out towards the horizon, towards where possibility and creativity intersect. Stevenson has assembled twelve songs that serve as travelogue entries along his musical expedition. Like a series of postcards sent home from exotic locales, each new song sounds like a report from an unexpected setting. “Mind Movie” is all mid-tempo balladry, nestled in the cool twilight of a seaside resort; it’s followed by “Television”, a thrumming and pulsing R&B groove transmission from a sultry jungle. The next time Stevenson checks in with us, we get the gentle, countryside folk strum of “Yellow Bird”, revealing yet another facet of this remarkable talent. Along the way, he’s connected with a stellar cast of collaborators, including Daniel Caesar, BADBADNOTGOOD’s Matty Tavares, and Joseph Shabason of Destroyer and DIANA.

By the time the deliciously sweet “Honeycola” brings Cara Cara to a close, it’s clear Stevenson’s musical journey is far from over. His options on where to go next are limited only by his own creativity and imagination. The one-time Edmonton punk rock scenester has discovered a musical wanderlust that’s serving him well. May he remain on his path and not come to a final destination anytime soon.

Jim Di Gioia

Jim founded the music blog Quick Before It Melts in 2006 and was its principal writer until 2016, when its decade-long run ended 10 years to the day it started. DOMINIONATED is its spiritual successor. Jim currently serves as a Polaris Music Prize jurist and Prism Prize jurist.

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