With his soft vocals, acoustic guitar and telling lyrics, Ben Salter immediately strikes you as a sort of edgier Josh Pyke. Opening with title track The Cat, his debut British offering starts of strong. The Coward seems a bit, frankly cowardly, in comparison. Vocals and music are merged into somewhat of a haze and it’s a little underwhelming compared to the rest of the album’s offerings.
The acoustic opening to Opportunities is matched with simple, yet powerful lyrics. “We all know I’ll just cave in given opportunities” Salter sings as he relays the negativity that’s less frequently associated with opportunities. Elsewhere on the album, the wonderfully titled German Tourist is entirely instrumental and leaves you really questioning where the title came from.
In fact, one brief reading of the track-listing and it seems Salter has quite the talent when it comes to creating song titles that lead you to have an enquiring listen. Cases in point include The Mailbox Song, I Am Not Ashamed and Last Night I Dreamt I Was Chasing You. The latter particularly grabs you with confronting lyrics such as “But I’ll keep on stalking, I’ll follow that scent” being particularly powerful.
West End Girls is a long track at over seven minutes but it manages to not feel too lengthy when played. Things Fall Apart is similarly slow in tempo but much shorter in length. The song has a serious tone to the lyrics suiting Salter’s rough-edged vocals that also shine in the particularly Pyke-esque So Tired Tonight.
Overall it’s a well-matched album with a good balance of vocal-led tracks and supportive (and sometimes solo) instrumentals. The lyrics are, perhaps, Salter’s strongest point with his honesty speaking volumes. With this album now available in the UK two years after the initial release, Salter’s really proving himself to be yet another great talent to arrive on our shores from Australia.