Review: Benjamin Francis Leftwich at the Black Cat

Must Hear Music

Last Tuesday, New York musician John Brodeur opened for Leftwich in the small venue at the Black Cat known as the Backstage. Brodeur set the tone for the evening  by playing bared down versions of his songs using only a guitar and a harmonica for accompaniment.

Broduer pulled out a few of his early numbers.“Across the Hall,” for example, was about the sounds of domestic abuse echoing from a nearby apartment. The majority of the set drew material from his forthcoming album Little Hopes due to be released on May 7. While his albums tend towards rock and roll, the acoustic set set a mellow tone to the evening perfect for the following act.

Leftwich Takes the Stage

The first thing I noticed when I stumbled across British singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich was the voice. It was uniquely haunting, breathy and beautiful.

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Elliot Smith, Leftwich taught himself to play guitar at age ten. In his teens, he fronted the Nicoles before embarking on a solo career. At 21, he released his debut album Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm.

Last Tuesday, Leftwich brought that music alive. Taking the stage with just his voice and acoustic guitar, he opened with “1904,” an ode to questioning one's place in life. He then warned of bad decisions made in youth with “Snowship,” and sang about secret love in “Stole You Away.”

Originally due to tour the US this past fall, Leftwich rescheduled after his father was diagnosed with cancer. Thanking his fans for their patience, he introduced a new song he’d written about his recent trip home. “Little Moon” gave an intimate glimpse of his relationship with this father. It was raw and impassioned.

Leftwich closed with “Atlas Hands,” a particular favorite of mine. Joining the audience on the floor, he created a very “Kubmaya” moment.

If you’re in the mood for some new music, I highly suggest checking these two artists out. For a softer sound Leftwich is sure to please and for a more rock sound you should check out Brodeur. You can’t go wrong with either one.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich can be found at

John Brodeur can be found at