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CD REVIEW: Ben Knighten - All I Want
By Cyrus Rhodes - 05/11/2011 - 12:16 AM EDT

Artist: Ben Knighten
Album: All I Want
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Acoustic folk/pop
Sounds Like: Jack Johnson, Rob Thomas, Dace Matthews Band
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Away, The Open Door, Remember Me
Weakness: Dated Mix, Lackluster Production Quality, Winded Songs.
CD Review:

Colorado singer, songwriter Ben Knighten releases his latest CD entitled All I Want in 2011. Band members include Ben Knighten (Guitars, Piano, Vocals) Matt Bensen (Bass), Jim Hicks (Back-up Vocals) Stephen Andrews (Drums) & Bill Benson (Mandolin).   

The CD gently takes flight with “The Dreams you Dream” a soothing acoustic lullaby that gradually builds into a passionate rock ballad complete with catchy vocal melody & a grand slam chorus. This intro track sets the tone rather well for this CD, with it’s feel good groove & passionate musical vibe. Track 2 “All I Want” dishes out yet another impressive track with its steady flowing rock rhythms, & heartfelt vocal melody from Knighten. Track 3 “Away” serves up yet another solid track with clever lyrical content, soothing melodies & impressive vocal flair again from Knighten. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, & even a dash of Rob Thomas.  This CD makes a pretty solid first impression. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of warmth, variety, passion & strong melodic structure. I would classify this music as acoustic pop rock, with a slight aftertaste of alternative folk. The songs themselves are addictive, & upbeat, complete with passionate & powerful subject matter. The musicianship of this band is pretty solid across the board. The players themselves write & play there parts extremely well. Besides the 4 piece standard you will also notice things like strings, well placed percussive accents, & lush harmonies layered along the way. Equally as impressive is the vocal presence of Knighten. Knighten takes many vocal risks throughout the CD indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. His voice sounds in the vein of Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20) & a dash of Tom Petty. All songs are short & sweet musical experiences, never too winded, never to short. From dynamic “Breaking Free” to heartfelt “Unattended Tree”& “The Open Door” & “Remember Me” to upbeat “Stepping Stones” & “Love is Unstoppable” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. The CD Ends with Track 11 “Beyond the Silence” a perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

Though adequate - this mix is not what I would call legendary, cutting edge or groundbreaking. Because of this the production has lackluster production quality. The liner notes don’t identify who the Mixing & Mastering Engineers are so I suspect the Recording Engineer did all this work himself. No doubt it takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix, & master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall marketability cannot be overstated. If this was 1981 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2010, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Knighten. Typically the best productions have  a separate engineer assigned to each production phase. There are some notable syncopation errors between the drums & percussion on Track 7 “Stepping Stones” & a few timing errors on Track 9 “Love is Unstoppable”.  All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. Despite all the aforementioned issues the raw talent & amazing songwriting virtuoso of Ben Knighten shine through with amazing crystal clarity.

In close All I Want by Ben Knighten is a compelling musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – its amazing musical flow & amazing vocal presence from Knighten. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate, & very powerful. The songs are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Last but not least Ben Knighten has an amazing voice & Is an extremely capable songwriter. If I could say anything to Knighten right now – surround yourself with world class Mixing, Mastering, & Recording Engineers that can do your amazing music proper justice. Do this & you will give your audience a world class musical production they so rightfully deserve.

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