Benjamin Clementine

I Tell a Fly


Oct 02, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Benjamin Clementine is the kind of artist hard to ignore and even harder to pigeonhole. His genre-merging, format-skipping style picked him up the Mercury Prize in the U.K. for his 2015 debut (At Least for Now) without anyone quite being able to place him. Not much and everything has changed on his smart and soulful sophomore effort I Tell a Fly.

Complex introspection is still there, but he's ranging outwards now, to the world around and his place in it. The piano balladry is also present, and also liable to be broken up by sudden bursts of energy, as he does right from the start on opener "Farewell Sonata."

Clementine makes sure to carve out plenty of space for that beguiling voice as well. "God Save the Jungle," a story of survival in a strange land dipping between soaring and jaunty sections, finds him mixing his operatic tenor with forays into his North London accent.

I Tell a Fly is far more than any one element though. Clementine creates a wonderful flow between tracks, happy to sink into instrumental sections as he mixes up pace. The segue from the quiet tinkling of "Better Sorry Than Safe" to the frenetic "Phantom of Aleppoville," a dive into the impact bullying has on kids, is impressive. He holds on for a full third of the track before bringing vocals in. And then there are songs like "Jupiter" transcending the whole. It's easy to call someone a singular talent, but with Clementine it's not hyperbole. He simply is. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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October 3rd 2017

Hey this is good.