Some artists are easily described and categorized. Ben Cyllus isn’t one of them. Nor can his sound be easily defined.
Ben is a singer-songwriter hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, by way of Detroit and Texas, with his roots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
His full-length debut, “Cinnamon Matinee,” contains 13 songs. At first glance, the themes seem familiar enough. Then they twist and contort themselves such that they’re suddenly surprising, uplifting, at times challenging. Much of this charming dynamic is owed to Ben’s gift for lyrical surprises and seemingly boundless vocal range. Another part is owed to the unconventional structure of the songs themselves. Ben and long-time friend and collaborator John Howard have developed a writing platform that Detroit’s Metro Times dubbed “implausible,” which the pair has taken as a compliment. It is anti-formula. It keeps you guessing. And that’s the fun of it. There are more smiles per revolution on “Cinnamon” than on many records of its time or genre.
“Cinnamon Matinee” was recorded at the White Room in Detroit, and captures the organic vibe for which the studio is known. While there, Ben and his band explored the studio’s impressive array of vintage recording gear. The result is a surprising mixture of the simple, the orchestral, the lush, the occasional drapery of sound. It’s a collection that only gets better with time.
Over the past several months, Ben and John have written over 40 new songs. The duo returned to the studio recently to record a few of their favorites for an upcoming, as yet un-named EP. Ben has since returned to his life in Nashville where he continues to perform and hone his craft, with loving support from his wife, Heather, and his angelic daughters, Ruby and Ava.