Evening Herald

Having worked with many Nashville writers, the South Armagh musician has learned his trade and, on his eight album, presents a series of atmospheric, well crafted and smartly arranged songs. -Eamon Carr- Evening Herald- July 2018

Folker magazine (Germany)

Ben starts his 8th studio album wonderfully casual. With a flute, a Rhodes-Piano and a Slide-Guitar the irish artist reminds on the flair of old Rockpalast-Open-Air-Festival. Even though the songs could be from 70s artists like "The Band", Land of Escape is a nice companion for a session in the hammock.  - Chris Elstrodt - Folker (Germany)



Watching this hearing about the Supreme Court nominee. It was a circus and so far, I don’t believe him. I’d rather be out partying, but hey I have to write this review. So, let me take a listen.
Landscapes, was a beautiful way to open this album. The flute places the listener in that nice natural outdoor amphitheater. That along with the melodic roll of the of the background music gets sailing along as the acoustic strumming begins and the vocals kick in.
Fish out of Water, is a lot like a “new age” folk tune. This has the same acoustic strumming with keyboard and other sound effects, yet this song’s lyrics show a great depth that really need to be taken separately, read and analyzed. The writing is pure poetry.
Misty Morning Rain, is a song I really wanted to hear. The main reason was I wanted to see how well lyrically this song caught that feeling. And, right off the bat you get that “staring out the window watching the rain patter with the gloom of a gray day.” Lyrically it’s a song about love lost. This is an absolutely beautiful duet. There isn’t much more I can say about it. Amazing song! 
As the blues harp opens it up, Smoldering Simmering, really takes hold and grabs you. Vocally it attaches like a song by James Taylor. The keyboard/piano was written by the hand of a master. This is a somewhat shorter ballad than most of the songs on the album, at least it feels that way. It leaves you wanting more.
This album keeps you wanting more just as its last long does. It was exactly what I was looking for at the right time. The musical talent and ability is on full display, the production was incredible and lyrically it is a masterpiece.
For Country Music News International by Jeremy Frost
DMME.NET (Canada)

Through fogs of Armagh and far away: Irish troubadour’s travel to the depth of devotion and desperation.

Issuing albums for almost two decades now and touring internationally, Ben Reel has somehow managed to remain unseen by mass audiences his songs deserve – perhaps, because of the artist’s penchant for changing genre. This, his eighth full-length offering, should find the musician at home, both stylistically and geographically, which is why “Land Of Escape” feels so warm, if occasionally uncomfortable as any comeback can be, and such sincerity will win many a heart to make Reel a noticeable presence in many a household. Gently gripping the listener from the beginning, Ben’s tunes cut deep yet their hurting moments are often bittersweet.

True to its own title and returning the entire record’s title to its roots, opener “Landscapes” slowly emerges from a shimmering, and throbbing with expectancy, mist where mesmeric flute would meet optimistic electronica to lead to vocal uplift on the chorus as if to scale Reel’s route toward hazy, yet happy, reverie. It’s there, in the widescreen traditional panorama, that the harmonica-washed “Fields Of Dreams” is located, with Ben’s honeyed voice not only striving to get to the promised land but also asking the loved one for permission to join in on the journey, this unhurried chase, while the orchestral wave behind “Soldier Of Love” becomes simply irresistible once dramatic tide has ebbed and left the same vulnerable request on the shore. Yes, the chain of songs must amount to a concept here, with the stately “I See Paradise” – filled with retro croon and jazzy thrill – and the painful, piano-rippled “Fish Out Of Water” fleshing out the idea.

Gloom might be smeared too thickly over “Healing Hands” but its hymnal qualities are quite redeeming, giving “Some Mercy” a reason to unfurl communal reel into lighter conversation piece, so the playfully languorous, soulful “Misty Morning Rain” sees Ben engaged in a romantic duet with his wife Julieanne. Further down the line, the anxious pulse of “Drifting” reveals heavy riffs to contrast a spectral bossa nova lurking in “Suffer In Silence” and the acoustically laced “Paradise Found” whose meandering fiddle and soaring guitar have this heavenly edge that is the predominantly sad album’s saving grace. “Smouldering Simmering” is a suitably lucid finale, though, a number dissipating the mist for good and leaving the Armagh troubadour exposed to be finally praised. It’s time to stop the escape. 4/5 Stars - Dmitry M. Epstein (Canada)


"Land Of Escape" is the 8th studio album of irish singer songwriter Ben Reel. The irish exeptional musician focus on the essential in his 12 new songs, he reduces the sound and works a lot with acoustic moments. Mr. Reel dominates the simplicity and takes his listeners on a emotional journey full of personal insights. It's a cd filled with melodic ingenuity and relaxing arrangements, which fascinates.

Ute Bahn - 4/5 stars ****



With his Dutch companions, Ben Reel recently returned to our regions. With that title Land Of Escape (own management / Sonic Rendezvous) was it  the Netherlands? You would almost think so, because he also makes extensive use of forces from the Low Countries on this Irish album. It turns out to be so beautiful, so it immediately becomes clear on the first number. On Landscapes where the album title is processed, he talks about the desire to ascend to the height where eagles hover, high above the mountains. So that dream is not about the Netherlands. Unfortunately? No not at all. Because Landscapes leads you through the flute of Hans Heidt, one of the Dutch, to an enchanting flight. Equally beautiful is the stay in Fields Of Dreams. Just like on the first track, the slightly pushing drumming of Michael Black stands out. Soldier Of Love is British soul. Meanwhile, the comparison is striking with the work of Jason Isbell. Just listen to the beautiful Fish Out Of Water. Based on his excellent albums, Reel deserves to gradually attract a wider audience. 'Everyone searching for some meaning, everyone is following a dream / Everyone is looking for salvation / For some mercy', it sounds like Mercy. And on Drifting, Reel sings with compassion about a 'cosmic space drifter', which has lost its way a bit. 'Where have you gone / When did you loose control / I can't reach you down in your hole / like a sunken ship how did you stoop so low.' Thematics that is also very important to Isbell. Between all the beautiful songs it is written together with Michael Prins Misty Morning Rain. The other Dutch accompanists on this album are Glenn Schwarzer (guitars, mandolin) and Jimmy Bakker (slide guitar). At closing Smoldering Simmering we hear Reel declare: "My day is coming, real soon / I'm slow burning." Slow burning is the best description of the beautiful music on Land Of Escape.

4/5 stars


Speaking of tasty discs, this is another one, see! And actually we just expected that too. In the past years, the Irishman Ben Reel has rejoiced us with several times with excellent stuff. And as if that were still necessary, he even mentions that as far as we are concerned this time. The twelve songs on the man's eighth studio album belong almost without exception to the very best that he has been able to deliver to date. Damn well!

Inspired as Reel in his own words is by such greats as a Bruce Springsteen, a Van Morrison and a Neil Young it is certainly not abnormal to mention that this time he unpacks with a whole that features elements from genres such as pop, rock, folk, country, Americana, blues and soul lovingly fall into each other's arms. It gives him lots of moments, which in our opinion can just go to radio. Superior listening, really!

Even more than on previous occasions, what Reel does this time is a little off towards folk. Listen occasionally to things such as the atmospheric "Landscapes", the "Fields Of Dreams", a playful rhythm towards spring, a little reminiscent of Paul McCartney's folk pop little "Soldier Of Love" or the soulful "Fish Out" Or Water "and you will probably immediately understand what we want to achieve with that determination. Moreover, you will also want to serve the rest of the ride! After all, another eight excellent songs are waiting for you!

4/5 stars

Music that needs attention (NL)
On his eighth album Land of Escape, the Irish singer-songwriter Brendan Gerard Reel
deviates from the more electric sound of the excellent predecessor 7th. The new album
is less rootsy than the predecessor and that suits me very well. The repertoire is more
subdued and gives the versatile voice of Ben even more space to excel. The songs have
been beautifully arranged without exception, thanks to keyboardist John McCullough.
Ben is an excellent songsmith, who occasionally writes with others and not the least,
like David Olney for example. For Misty Morning Rain, he joined forces with our Michael Prins.
The duet is beautifully sung with his wife, Julieanne, who takes care of the background vocals
in almost all other songs. There are even more lines with the Netherlands, singer-songwriter
Jimmy Bakker plays almost all slid parts on the album. Hans Heidt makes substantial contributions
to opener Landscapes (flute) and I See Paradise (soprano sax). The latter song could also have
been written by the Belfast Cowboy. Ben wrote it once in Norway and he found the inspiration
for the song especially with a young girl with an old soul, who bought an album from him and
had the most piercing blue eyes . Weak songs can not be found on this excellent album.
In fact, it is his most successful album so far, question remains, when he finally breaks
through to the general public. He has been earning that for years. - Theo Folk-

Ireland is generally known as the country of singer-songwriters. If you hear "Land Of Escape", the new album from Ben Reel, then you know that this is no coincidence. In fact, the Irish presents here twelve pearls of songs with the best songwriting. Not so exciting, that is the art of this singer-songwriter, but how he manages to shake these lyrics out of his sleeve, this is only the hardest work. His political and personal texts run smoothly into each other, his voice has a certain ability but always knows how to touch the heart. Stylistically you can not classify Ben Reel. You hear slide guitars, a Hammond, acoustic guitar accompaniment, but remarkable is his piano playing in a number of tracks, which usually stays unobtrusive in the background and yet lays great accents.

Ben Reel is from Silverbridge in South Armagh. After his school years he began his musical career and started his first live performances and compilation attempts with the band Trim The Velvet. The music helped Ben escape the riots in Northern Ireland. At the age of fifteen, he held his first guitar in his hands. He was inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, whose guitar grips have been firmly anchored in Ben's heart and still influence him in writing and performing his own songs. And now so many years later the new album "Land Of Escape" is coming onto the market. This album is his eighth studio album with twelve songs that you have to listen to after a long night. Just like you need something quiet. Ben really takes a step back from his predecessor, the album "7th" (2015) and now concentrates on purely acoustic sounds. The Irishman also produced his own music again as if he only knew how to sound.

Ben's folk music really embodies a down-to-earth sound that has developed over the years as good wine. You can find different influences, from rock, blues, folk, americana, country to even reggae. A colorful melting pot that makes the music of Ben Reel unique. In the past there have been some successful collaborations with Hal Ketchum and the legendary saxophonist Blockheads, Gilad Atzmon and many others. He also wrote songs with David Olney, John Hadley, Sergio Webb and Irene Kelley. But here on his new album are the experienced rotten, Michael Black (drums), Ronnie O'Flynn (bass), Micky McCarney (guitar), Gerry Black Jnr (guitar) and Julie Anne Black (backing vocals and percussion, Ben Supporting Reel in many genres and playing flawlessly, "Land Of Escape" is also a strong record, a record that sounds different from its predecessors, but fortunately they did not all sound identical, but as far as I'm concerned, Ben Reel is constantly on the move. the right side of the line.

The single "Soldier Of Love" has a strong melody because of a rich sounding Spector-like production with splashing and razor-sharp strings, but also with room for the piano. The Beatles influence can even be heard with a Harrison-like slide guitar. "Rise Like the Sun" comes from the album "10", a compilation of Ben's work from 1999 to 2009. The other songs also have a lot of piano, acoustic guitar, sometimes a little bluesy, then jazzy. In his songs, influences from the alt-country are mixed with the atmospheric and obscure that characterizes the music from Ireland so often. But it is mainly relaxed music that beats gently, and even has some nostalgia. The album listens easily, but under the clearly present sugar layer the songs unmistakably contain the quirky stamp of Ben Reel. "Land Of Escape" is a typical Ben Reel album that sounds a bit different, just as you would expect from a musician of his caliber. Just like a good cook, Ben Reel stimulates all taste buds. Sweet is at the heart of this time and that is actually quite good at the time, although the next time it may be a bit more bitter.

4/5 stars

www.realrootscafe.com (Netherlands)

e uitstekende albums die van de Ierse singer-songwriter de laatste jaren verschenen, heeft hem slechts een zeer bescheiden status onder americanaliefhebbers opgeleverd. Aan zijn (toenemend) aansprekende repertoire, veelkleurige stem, vaardige begeleiders, persoonlijke teksten en volle overgave, kan het toch niet liggen. Dan moet het er nu maar eens van komen met zijn nieuwe, achtste album Land Of Escape. Die is weliswaar iets anders, maar mooier dan de ook al fraaie plaat 7th van 2015. Waar 7th elektrischer, directer en rootsier klinkt, bezit Land Of Escape een verzameling rustige, semi-akoestisch liedjes, die stuk voor stuk in warme, boeiende arrangementen (inclusief loops)zijn uitgewerkt tot beauties. Landscapes is de goed geplaatste opener, vanwege de weidse sfeer en de lome cadans die – zo blijkt – alle liedjes van Land Of Escapes typeren. Zij vormen een telkens veranderend land(schap), dat met de kracht van melancholie verleidt tot (dag)dromen, weemoed, overdenking en bemoediging. Songteksten als die in Fields of Dreams, Healing Hands, I See Paradise, Suffer In Silence, Paradise Found en Smoldering Simmering suggereren bijna dat we hier met een heus conceptalbum over Reels zielenroerselen van doen hebben.

Reels stem is geweldig. Hij zingt of croont wat-ie wil. Geen genre is hem vreemd: folk, soul, jazz, country, rock of pop – in alle denkbare mengvormen – het is ‘m allemaal eender.

Het arsenaal gebruikte instrumenten is indrukwekkend. En al even indrukwekkend speelt de groep (vaste) begeleiders, onder meer met drummer Michael Black, bassist Ronnie O’Flynn, gitarist Gerry Black Jnr en toetsenist (piano, orgel, synthesizer, loops). Speciale aandacht gaat uit naar zijn vrouw Julieanne Black Reel, de fantastische achtergrondzangeres, die bovenal schittert – als zangduo met manlief – in Misty Morning Rain. Ook de Nederlanders die Reel begeleiden bij optredens in ons land, slide gitarist Jimmy Bakker en fluitist en sopraansaxofonist Hans Heidt, dragen opnieuw in meer of mindere mate bij.

Wat een intens, uiterst subtiel en sfeervol klinkend album. De vraag is alleen wanneer de Ier en zijn band eindelijk eens op het podium van Take Root of Ramblin’Roots geprogrammeerd staan (eigen beheer).

Americana UK

Ben Reel is an Irish artist who has been in the business for over 20 years, this being his eighth studio album release.  This is a homegrown affair having been recorded and produced in his home studio in South Armagh with Reel having written or co-written all twelve tracks. There is a theme to the album which is one of redemption and understanding which is demonstrated no better than on ‘Fish Out Of Water,’ a haunting track written from the perspective of an exiled immigrant seeking a new life with all the terrors of the journey on show and the many daunting problems at the other end of the journey throwing up the unfamiliar. Featuring a moody organ and drumbeat mimicking guns it is a top quality track highlighting one of the burning subjects of the day.

The theme is developed in ‘Healing Hands’ which is ostensibly a love song but has the telling opening line “I remember you had flowers in your hair when I came home from the war” with ‘Some Mercy’sending the reminder that people are the same the whole world over in seeking love and understanding.  Again a sentiment that is only too necessary to reiterate in these times. Reel also demonstrates the art of simple songwriting about self in the opening track ‘Landscapes’ which has a dreamy feel referring to lands of escape and of beautiful landscapes glimpsed in dreams. The track appears to feature panpipes or similar which adds to the evocation of flying and with ‘Fields Of Dreams’ there is a Springsteenesque harmonica which firmly plants the listener in a time and place.

This is essentially a folk album with a hint of jazz thrown in and is very much an album of its time dealing very cleverly and intelligently with the issues of the day in the style of the 1960’s folk movement.


Intelligent and uplifting songs addressing many issues of the day. 3/5 stars

RnR (Rock n Reel) UK

Writtenmusic (Germany)

Like the predecessors, the eighth long player of the Irish musician came into being in his home studio in South Armagh where he was accompanied by Ronnie O'Flynn and Michael Black to the drum kit through his familiar rhythm section. Ben Reel sporadically produces riffs on electric guitar besides the usual acoustic guitar, which is expertly handled by Gerry Black Jr. The keyboard work and arrangements are provided by John McCullough who creates an eclectic and more layered touch.

In the past, Reel mixed his Celtic roots with the most diverse styles and he distilled a personal sound from it. The folk undertone remains present but in addition to the accessible song work the smooth voice, incidentally excellently flanked by background vocals by Julieanne Black, which provides added value.

Land Of Escape opens with the compelling title track on such a mesmerizing flute, an often maligned souvenir from the seventies, but it does work here. Occasionally the harmonica is deepened as in the rhythmic Fields Of Dreams. In Soldier Of Love a slidegitaart remembers George Harrison. The tripping ballad works such as Fish Out Of Water, in which the injustice is denounced in the world, or the beautiful I See Paradise and Paradise Found, in which the pace is slightly increased, remains absolutely impressive.

The soul duet with his wife Julieanne in the Misty Morning Rain evolving on electric piano remains my personal favorite with the title track and the beautiful closing Smoldering Simmering. Strong record of the Irish songwriter who stayed in the country for a few concerts.

Eclipsed (Germany)

Even though the irish man Ben Reel is a "Folkie" he mixes different genres, which gives his songs a fusion and ambient character, just like "Sky Trails" David Crosby and "Tribe" Luka Bloom. Best example for this extraordinary combinations: his opener "Landscapes". He adds a raucous voice , fleet, hypnotiv rhythm and an echo sound to this relaxing folksong, in which you can dive into. More conventional, but with hidden reggae sounds, is "Field Of Dreams" with his harmonica and hammond organ. "Soldier of Love" fits with his strings/violins perfectly for the film industry. The gospel ballad "Healing Hands" sounds like Bruce Sprngsteen, but less rough and softer. The piano songs "I See Paradise" reminds me at Billy Joel and "Misty Morning Rain" at Van Morrison. Reel quotes classy and never harsh, sometimes he varnishes classic folk or even country ("Some Mercy"). The powerful track "Drifting" gives fresh impetus to the emotional journey through this album.

German review - musikreviews.de

Fortschritt durch Reduktion: Auf seinem achten Studioalbum geht BEN REEL im Verhältnis zu seinem 2015er Longplayer "7th" einen Schritt zurück und setzt wieder konsequenter auf rein akustische Klänge. Produziert hat der Ire seine Musik abermals selbst, als wisse nur er, wie sie klingen muss.

Warme Orgelsounds, dumpfe Bässen und einstweiliger Mundharmonika-Einsatz ('fields of dreams') prägen "Land Of Escape" maßgeblich, doch Reel lässt sich nach all den Jahren im Business zwischen Rock und Folk bzw. US-Country nicht auf eine einzelne Richtung festlegen. Jazz, den er bereits durch seine Kollaboration mit Saxofonist Gilad Atzmon bewiesen hat, findet auf diessem Album allerdings in keinem Moment statt, wohl aber wieder die eine oder andere Kollaboration mit anderen Musikern, allen voran das Duett 'Misty morning rain' mit Nashville-Größe Irene Kelley

Dem hypnotischen Einstieg 'Landscapes' steht das "rockigste" Stück 'Drifting' gegenüber, und der Schöpfer intoniert den Höhepunkt 'Fish out of water' fast so melodramatisch wie Bob Catley die intensivsten Magnum-Tracks, deren Musik, wäre sie weniger Hardrock-lastig, gar keinen so weiten Weg bis zu Reels Schaffen zurückzulegen hätte. Als gebranntes Kind der "Troubles" in Nordirland schwingt in seinen Songs jedoch immer etwas Unheiles, Gebrochenes mit; in ihrer wehmütigen Art sind die Kompositionen sozusagen Balsam auf die Seelen der Generation U2, wenngleich Reel auch hörbar durch die Schulen von Bruce Springsteen und Neil Young gegangen ist.

Um aber noch einmal auf den Opener zurückzukommen und eine Gedankenkette zum Titel des Albums zu knüpfen: Dessen Leitmotiv scheint Geografie im Sinne einer seelischen Standortbestimmung zu sein: Der Platz in der materiellen Welt wirkt bei BEN REEL identitätsstiftend wie heilsam, wenn er ihn zum Zweck einer Weltflucht anstrebt. Was Wunder also, dass "Land Of Escape" in seiner Gesamtheit wie ein transatlantischer Zwitter anmutet?

FAZIT: Americana oder Irish Folk? Fest steht, dass niemand die Gratwanderung zwischen beiden musikalischen und kulturellen Polen so versiert wie emotional schaft wie BEN REEL. "Land Of Escape" ist wie in gedämpften Farben gemaltes Bild, das den in sich Zerrissenen mit dem eigenen Ich zu versöhnen scheint.

Celtic-Rock (Germany)

If you grew up in South Armagh near the Inner Irish border, it seems obvious to look for a place to escape. Ben Reel suffers not only from the outside, but also at the inner discord. With his emotional singing style and very personal songs, the singer / songwriter from the village of Silverbridge pulls the audience quickly into his own world.

Despite inserted loops, the overall impression is quite nostalgic. Ben Reel ties less to the Irish tradition. His role models are audible Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Van Morrison. Since the commitments we know of the close Irish relationship to the soul. But country and pop have also left their mark on the arrangements and song structure, so that the result is quite transatlantic. Soldier of Love is certainly mainstream.

Ben Reel (Vocals, Guitar, harmonica) has recorded and produced his eighth album completely himself. The twelve songs are therefore very closed and clearly show the personal signature.He was supported by his congenial band and other individual musicians. An economical rhythm section, piano and organ determine the atmosphere. Slide guitar, fiddle or saxophone effectively transform the mood of their solos.

Listening involves associations with one's own experiences of separation or grief.In the Land of Escape you are not alone with your suffering. A song about love and seduction ( Paradise Found ) already carries the knowledge of pain in Ben Reel.The man from Northern Ireland would have the ability and the personality to convince friends of melancholy uplift also internationally.

http://www.promoportal-germany.net (Germany)

Review – Ben Reel – Land Of Escape

Das achte Studioalbum „Land OF Escape“ hat der Ire „Ben Reel“ ebenfalls selbst produziert. Es erschien am 30. März 2018. Im Vordergrund steht die rein akustische Musik. Klavier, akustische Gitarren, Orgel und auch die Mundharmonika überzeugen. Er selbst singt, spielt die Akustikgitarre und die Mundharmonika. Michael Black ist der Drummer und Ronnie O`Flynn spielt Bass. Weitere Gitarren spielen Micky McCarney und Gerry Black Junior. Mit Hintergrundgesang wird er durch Julieanne Black begleitet und unterstützt.

In eine Schublade zu ordnen ist das Album absolut nicht. Die 12 Songs sind durchweg ruhig und haben aber alle unterschiedliche Schwerpunkte und Einflüsse von Rock, Folk, Blues, Country und auch Jazz. Es ist Rockmusik zum Entspannen und Genießen, die einen ein wenig in die Ferne schweifen und träumen lässt.

Mundharmonikaliebhabern sind „Fields Of Dreams“ und „Smoldering Simmering“ zu empfehlen. Und wer Ben Reel gemeinsam mit Irene Kelley (Nashville) genießen möchte, sollte sich als erstes das wunderbare Duett „Misty Morning Rain“ anhören. Einfach harmonisch sind „Healing Hands“ und „Some Mercy“, wobei zweites nicht ganz so melancholisch, sondern freudiger ist. Während der Opener „Landscape“ von den Instrumentenlinien an den vornehmlich westdeutschen Krautrock erinnert, ist „Soldiers of Love“ in seiner Steigerung des Dramatik und Kraft kaum zu bremsen. Ähnlich und sehr harmonisch ist „Fish Out Of Water“.

Insgesamt ist das Album handwerklich gut gemacht und die Fokussierung auf die rein akustische Musik ist mal wieder was anderes. Dennoch fehlt mir persönlich bei dem ein oder anderen Song etwas Kraft. 

Promoportal-germany vergibt 8 von 10 Punkten. - 8/10 Stars

www.sounds-of-south.de (Germany)

Die verschiedenen Regionen der irischen Insel haben in vielerlei Hinsicht ihre oft traditionellen, musikalischen Einflüsse häufig in die moderne Pop-Musik eingebracht und integriert. Auch der über Jahrzehnte abgetrennte und umkämpfte, nordirische Teil des englischen Königreichs, hat neben z.B. Van Morrison und Gary Moore, zahlreich gute Interpreten hervorgebracht, die ihre Heimat und ihre musikalischen Wurzeln produktiv vertreten. In diese Reihe der regelmäßigen aktiven Songpoeten gehört seit Ende der neunziger Jahre auch der Musiker Ben Reel.

Der aus Nordirland stammende Singer/Songwriter und Multiinstrumentalist, hat mit „Land of Escape“ nunmehr sein 8. Studioalbum vorgelegt, eine Rundum- Eigenproduktion, von der Aufnahme der Titel bis zum Mastering. Reel wird von talentierten Musikern begleitet, die seine besonderen Qualitäten und Arrangements tragen. Bereits der erste Track „Landscapes“, erinnert sofort an das in nebeligem grün gehaltene Album-Cover einer düsteren Landschaft, die durch den weichen Sound einer Querflöte psychedelisch angehaucht wird.

Auch das nächste Stück „Fields of Dreams“, das vom schnörkellosen Rhythmus geprägt wird, hält das Interesse am folkigen Stil aufrecht. Die Single-Auskoppelung „Soldier of Love“ ist hingegen eher poplastig, kommerziell arrangiert und ausgekleidet. Der Song „Fish Out of Water“ wirkt balladenartig, wie bei Meisterwerken von Neil Young und ähnelt nicht nur in der Tonlage durchaus dem kanadischen Mastermind.

„Healing Hands“ ist ebenfalls in dieser Stimmung, mit langsam aufbauendem Rhythmus, durchaus ansprechend, dem nordamerikanischen Vorbild nachempfunden. Beim Track „Some Mercy“ muss man unwillkürlich an die Leichtigkeit und die Ausprägung eines Bruce Springsteen Songs denken, der in frischen und lebendigen Folk-Country mit harmonischen Geigenparts abdriftet.

Textlich rufen viele Lieder („Landscapes“ oder „Fields of Dreams“) überwiegend sinnlich-natürliche Landschafts- und Naturbilder hervor. Der Übergang vom 7. Stück „I See Paradise“ zum 11. „Paradise Found“, durch das jazzige Duett „Misty Morning Rain“, das innige „Suffer In Silence“ und das an „The War On Drugs“ angelehnte „Drifting“, ist eine ambitionierte Konzeptbrücke innerhalb des Albums.

Der vorletzte Song „Paradise Found“ greift im Aufbau und Gitarrenriff dann wieder auf die bewährten und bekannten Young-Elemente zurück, die im letzten Song („Smoldering Simmering“) mit Mundharmonika und Country-Harmonien gekonnt ausklingen. Das Album „Land of Escape“ hat Reel im eigenen Studio im South Armagh produziert und liefert damit 12 handwerklich ausgereifte und anspruchsvolle Tracks ab, die erneut die vielschichtigen Ebenen seines Könnens eindringlich wiederspiegeln.

www.soultrainonline.de (Germany)

Der irische Sänger, Gitarrist und Mundharmonika-Virtuose Ben Reel ist ein alter Hase der Folk- und Blues-Szene des Planeten – der SOUL TRAIN berichtete.

Seit den späten Neunziger Jahren veröffentlichte Reel so über ein halbes Dutzend Alben, von denen nun „Land Of Escape“ die neueste Longplayer-Generation einläutet.

Einmal mehr sind es hier auch Michael Black (Schlagzeug), Ronnie O’Flynn (Bass), Micky McCarney und Gerry Black Jr. (beide Gitarre) oder Julieanne Black (Perkussion), um nur einige wenige zu erwähnen – die Ben Reel Band – die dem Klangraum des neuen Ben Reel-Dings unter die Arme greifen und ihm seinen auch durchaus mal folkloristischen Liedermacher-Habitus- und Fluss geben, den ein rundlaufendes Album auch im Jahre 2018 nachwievor braucht, um als Einheit zu funktionieren.

Ben Reels Gesang, der immer mal wieder ein ähnliches Timbre wie Musikgigant Paul McCartney, über den wir im SOUL TRAIN gefühlte Millionen mal berichteten, an den Tag legt, ist dabei so routiniert und abgebrüht wie die Zubereitung der zweihunderttausendsten Fish & Chips-Portion für den geneigten Fast Food-Gastronom in einem beliebigen britischen (in diesem Fall irischen) Seebad und zeigt verlässlich das verbindende Glied zwischen Singer/Songwriter, Folk, Blues und einem halben Dutzend weiterer, mehr oder weniger klassischer Rock-Geschwister, die „Land Of Escape“ gemeinsam eine echte Kernaussage geben: Musik ist tatsächlich die universelle Sprache.

Dass Ben Reel, für den bereits in früher Jugend klar war, dass für ihn nur ein Leben als professioneller Vollblutmusiker in Frage kommt, laut mitgelieferter Presseinfo Bruce Springsteen und Neil Young (der SOUL TRAIN berichtete unzählige male über beide) zu seinen größten Inspirationen zählt, hört man auch seinem neuen Set durchweg an, auch wenn „Land Of Escape“ durchaus auch ein typisch irisches Folk-Album geworden ist.

Ben Reel, der seit vielen Jahren insbesondere auf europäischen Bühnen seine musikalische Ideologien, die sogar mal Reggae gemeinsam mit Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Rock, Blues, Country und Americana, freimütig und mit Unterstützung durch seine Frau Julieanne Black, verbreiten, legt mit „Land Of Escape“ ein selbstbewusstes, mitunter gar persönliches, fast intimes, neues Album ab, welches nicht nur seine zahlreichen Fans begeistern wird.

Global Music Magazine (Germany)

Land Of Escape

Irland gilt gemeinhin als DAS Land der Singer-Songwriter. Hört man “Land Of Escape”, das neue Album von Ben Reel, dann weiß man, dass dieser Ruf nicht von ungefähr kommt. In der Tat präsentiert der Ire hier zwölf Songperlen mit bestem Songwriter-Handwerk. Allesamt nicht besonders aufregend, aber das ist es, was seine Kunst ausmacht. Unaufgeregt, fast schon lässig, schüttelt er scheinbar die Stücke aus dem Ärmel, dabei ist das härteste Arbeit.

Stilistisch kann man Ben Reel nicht einordnen. Es gibt u.a. Slidegitarren wie im Country, Hammonds wie im Blues, akustische Gitarrenbegleitung wie im Folk. Hervorzuheben ist besonders sein Pianospiel, das zwar meist unauffällig im Hintergrund bleibt, dennoch schöne Akzente setzt.

Ben Reel kommt, wie gesagt, aus Irland, genauer aus Silverbridge in South Armagh. Nachdem er die Schule beendet hatte, stürzte er sich auf seine musikalische Karriere und startete mit der Band Trim The Velvet seine ersten Live Auftritte und Kompnierversuche. Die Musik half Ben, den Unruhen in Nordirland zu entfliehen. Mit jungen fünfzehn Jahren hielt er seine erste Gitarre in den Händen. Er wurde inspiriert von Bruce Springsteen  und  Neil Young. Heute ist Ben Reel solo, als Duo mit seiner Frau Julieanne oder mit seiner holländischen Band The Haarlem Boys unterwegs, hauptsächlich tourt er jedoch mit seiner irischen Ben Reel Band.

“Land Of Escape” ist bereits sein achtes Studioalbum und wurde, wie die beiden vorhergehenden Alben in Ben Reels Studio in South Armagh (Irland) aufgenommen und produziert. Mit dem neuen Album ist ihm eine Glanzleistung geglückt. 4/5 Stars

The Irish Times



Rock n Reel UK

I don’t know what it is about Northern Ireland. Maybe there's something in the water but it seems particularly adept at 

producing a certain breed of gravel voiced , metaphysical , Celtic troubadour.


All the way back to Van the Man , through Paul Brady's rockier moments to Brian Houston. Now add Ben Reel to the list.

Although, to be fair, since this is his seventh album he has been on that list for quiet a while.


The music here is an infectious mix of Northern Irish  attitude  and the sounds of classic Americana. 

There are shades of a young Van Morrison  in Reel's vocal  inflections and in his songwriting.


The guitars, Hammond organ  and harmonica bring to mind Tom Petty  And The Heartbreakers'  Sound City albums. 

Throw in a subtle Muscle Shoals flavour in the backing vocals and overall tonality and it makes for a very enjoyable mix.


There a few songs where Reel's voice is transmogrified into Roy Orbison's but the album is none the worse for that. 

In fact it adds a different flavour to those tracks without straying too far from Reel's winning formula. 


Review by Trevor Raggatt 


Get Ready To Rock UK, 4/5 stars

With each new release Northern Ireland songsmith Ben Reel steps inexorably closer to becoming the home soil torchbearer of American heartland rock.  That is, the mantle occupied across the pond by the likes of The Boss and Tom Petty.

There have been pretenders to the crown – Tom Fuller being one of the more recent, but Reel is in a different league drawing on rock, soul, blues, alt folk/Americana and country influences, adding a sprinkling of Irish magic and drawing on the inspiration of Van Morrison.

From the opening bars of ‘Lucky Streak’ – a number that invites pushing the pedal to the metal, through 14 self-produced tracks, the pace and quality control never slackens and 7th is easily Reel’s most consistent offering to date.

Ably abetted by his band – Michael Black (drums), Ronnie O’Flynn (bass), Mick McCarney (piano and keyboards) and wife Julieanne (backing vocals and percussion) – and invited guests, 7th is a timeless ‘no frills’ set which echoes those who’ve trodden the road before including the likes of the Big O on ‘Say’, The Boss at his most reflective on ‘God’s World’, Don Maclean on ‘Coming Round Again’, and oh so many other classic rockers.

In this digital age it’s rare to hear rock as pure as this, and played with such passion – take a listen to ‘Resurrection Man’ – one of the two bonus tracks – probably the finest song Jagger & Richards never wrote.  In days of yore there used to be something called ‘good time rock ‘n’ roll’.  With 7th, Ben Reel’s just reinvented it.  ****

Heaven magazine

Heaven Magazine NL ...8/10 stars

Irish artist Ben Reel is not the typical acoustic singer-songwriter on his album 7th. The record has a solid sound and Reel has a very pleasant voice, resulting in a great rootsrock album worth checking out!

The Irish Post

SINGER/SONGWRITER Ben Reel has released his seventh album.

Ben recorded and produced the album - simply entitled 7th
in his own home studio in South Armagh. He wrote 12 of
the tracks and co-wrote two others for this fine album that
will probably be acclaimed as his best yet, which is a huge
tribute given the quality of his previous releases starting back
in 1999.

Having his own studio undoubtedly gave him the time
and the means to experiment and develop his own sound
without the financial restraints of watching studio time and he
has certainly achieved that.

The album has a real consistency - despite the long
list of guest musicians - and exudes a confidence that has
obviously been gained from live performances touring
extensively across Europe and the USA, plus many radio and
TV appearances and supporting the likes of Jools Holland, Alabama 3 and The Cranberries.

The album shows the influences that have contributed to the Ben Reel sound. One of these Days could be a Neil Young song the way it opens with harmonica but it is unmistakably the South Armagh man's own, as indeed is the slightly Springsteen sounding Back on the Road. No British tour dates as yet but I will be watching out for some.

Blues Matters


Issue 87 November 2015




B.Reel Records

The singer-songwriter Ben Reel has assembled a crack team of musicians and some quality songs for his newest release.


The influence of Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young is noticeable in many of the arrangements, particularly in Reel’s vocal style, which also at times sounds like a gruffer Nils Lofgren. Whilst a hard rocking rhythm section helps to underpin the many moods that this album skips through.


From the country rock of opener Lucky Streak, to the Stone like heavy riffing of All Souls Alive, to The Band like Given It All (which uses The Weight’s famous descending chordal riff) there is something for fans of high class American here.


The Irish songwriter also owes a certain debt to Van Morrison, in terms of some of his vocal mannerisms, and the brass arrangements that help to add a high quality sheen to these songs.


There is some interplay here, with guitar solos and harmonica being given equally billing, whilst a lot of work has clearly gone into the vocal harmonies, as well as the smooth running of the album.


Songs such as Back On The Road with its love of the open road sit well with songs about love such as Meant To Be and Crushed It.


However, my only gripe with the album is that there are two bonus tracks, right at the end of the release – All Souls Alive and Resurrection Man which should have been on the album earlier, and make the running order slightly awkward, but these two songs would sit really well as a set opener at live shows. This is only a minor gripe, and although seven albums into a career Ben Reel, his muse, and his band clearly have a lot to still say.  BEN MACNAIR


Ben Reel plays folk music in pretty much the same way Led Zeppelin did – the roots are there, buried deep, but sometimes they emerge blinking into the light, if that doesn’t mix too many metaphors. Ben is a singer-songwriter from South Armagh with a mighty band behind him and an equally mighty guest list.

The opening track, ‘Lucky Streak’, reminds me of Andy White in his younger, rockier days but Ben is further into the blues and rock. The key sound on this album is organ courtesy of John McCullough and with overdubbed piano and backing vocals by his wife Julieanne Black Reel the sound is sometimes reminiscent of Dylan and The Band. Ben moves easily between the optimistic groove of ‘One Of These Days’, with the harmonica blowing and the band rolling along, and the pain of ‘Crushed It’, one of the record’s best songs.

The pace lets up a little with the ballad, ‘God’s World’, and ‘Reflection Of The Blues’ which hovers just on the edge of being a country yodel – another fine song – and the Dylanesque ‘Many A Time’ name-checks Tom Waits which puts Ben right in my good books. Then it’s back to the boogie.

Like I say, the folk music is pretty deep but it’s worth searching for.

Dai Jeffries

Alt Country NL

Ben Reel

Opgeslagen in: RECENSIES — John Gjaltema @ 13:06   

De Ier Ben Reel trok in 2013 samen met de Amerikaan Tommy Womack als een duo door Amerika en Engeland. De stijl van de rootsrocker uit Nashville is een goede indicatie van wat er hier gaande is op 7th (eigen beheer/Sonic Rendezvous) van Reel. Vooral de eerste vier nummers van deze cd bieden het soort catchy rootsrock waar Womack het patent op heeft. Op opener Lucky Streak doet Reel zijn mond open en je weet onmiddellijk dat het goed zit. De scherpte van de zijkant van een vel papier uit een kopieerapparaat. One Of These Days is een zoektocht naar een andere invalshoek ingeluid door mondharmonica. Crushed It heeft een dwarsliggend ritme dat naadloos aansluit op de tekst. Had ook op Love And Danger van Joe Ely gepast. God’s World is een fraaie ballad die hij samen met David Olney en Sergio Webb schreef. Reflection Of The Blues heeft een typisch countrybegin, maar Reel zingt hiet als een soulman. Zo gaat dat maar door op 7th. Het ene knappe nummer na het andere. Many A Time doet niet onder voor het werk van nieuwe helden als Robert Ellis of Andrew Combs. Gimme Some Room is stampende honky tonk blues. Delbert McCliinton zou er samen met de Stones aan de bar kunnen zitten. Een orgel voert Reel op Given It All naar countrysoul met blazers. Prachtig gezongen. Zeer overtuigend plaatje met Nederlandse inbreng van Ronald de Jong, Jimmy Bakker en Hans Heidl. En dat hoedje op de door de Nederlander Ewoud Koster ontworpen hoes kreeg Reel van Michael Prins.

Celtic Rock Radio Germany

Gute Blues und Rock Musik mit keltischen Wurzeln. Der aus Armagh stammende Ire Ben Reel hat auf seinem neuen Album mit den knappen Titel 7th gezeigt, das auch ein irischer Musiker Rock, Soul und Blues von feinsten schaffen kann. „Bens Musik hat einem ehrlichen erdigen Klang, der wie ein guter Wein gereift und sich weiterentwickelt hat“, heißt es auf seiner Homepage. Ben Reel 7th album cover 12cm 300dpi

Ein guter Wein gehört auch dazu, wenn man sich dieses fantastische Album anhört. Auch wenn die Songs an alte amerikanische Meister, wie Bruce Springsteen oder Neil Young erinnern, so kann Ben Reel seine irischen Wurzeln nicht verleugnen. Für die Aufnahmen im eigenen Studio, sowie für seine Konzerte hat Ben hochkarätige Musiker um sich versammelt:

Ben Reel, der mit akustischer Gitarre und Harmonika die Seele dieses Werkes ist, wird von Ronnie O’Flynn am Bass, Micky McCarney an Klavier und Keyboard, Michael Black am Schlagzeug und Julieanne Black begleitet. Julieanne Black wertet die Songs mit Percussion und Backgroundgesang auf. Wie beliebt die Band in Irland ist, zeigt der Blick auf Ben Reels Tourenplan. In Juli und August steht fast jeden Tag ein neuer Gig auf dem Programm.

Auf dem folgenden Video zeigt Ben Reel seine Liebe zur echten handgemachten Bluesmusik

Roots Time

De originaliteit zit soms in de kleine dingen. Zo verkoos de Ierse troubadour Ben Reel om zijn zevende soloalbum sinds zijn debuut in 1999 de originele titel “7th“ te geven. Het is de langverwachte opvolger van het door ‘Rootstime’ en ondergetekende zwaar bejubelde album “Darkness & The Light” uit 2013. Twee jaar na de release van die prachtplaat komt Ben Reel nu met twaalf nieuwe zelfgeschreven en zelf geproduceerde nummers die in een Ierse opnamestudio op plaat werden vereeuwigd.

Met een uitgebreid arsenaal aan gastmuzikanten is “ 7th” een schitterend georkestreerde plaat geworden. Bij die gasten noteerden we de namen van pianist John McCullough, Ronald De Jong als backing vocalist bij de twee songs “Say” en “Gimme Some Room” en de bij ‘Rootstime’ ook al vaak opgedoken Amerikaanse folkzanger en songschrijver David Olney als co-auteur en duozanger bij de ballad “God’s World”, volgens ons het mooiste nummer op deze nieuwe Ben Reel-cd. Ben’s echtgenote Julieanne Black Reel is op deze plaat trouwens ook weer van de partij als backing vocaliste bij zowat alle tracks.

De echte fans van Ben Reel krijgen bovendien twee bonustracks aangeboden met het uit zijn album “New Horizon” uit 2007 stammende nummer “All Souls Alive” (zie hier live versie op video) en de song “Resurrection Man” die Ben Reel vorig jaar samen schreef met Tony McLoughlin. De hoogstaande muzikale kwaliteit druipt ook nu weer af van de twaalf liedjes die Ben Reel hier heeft opgenomen, nummers die ofwel in de categorieën folk of folkrock thuishoren.

“One Of These Days” vormt een eerste hoogtepunt op “7th”, maar er volgen er nog meerdere met o.a. het schitterende “God’s World”, het laid back gebrachte bluesliedje “Reflection Of The Blues”, de naar Bruce Springsteen lonkende rocknummers “Back On The Road” en “Meant To Be” en de soulvolle emo-ballads “Many A Time”, “Given It All” en “Coming Round Again”.

De zevende plaat van Ben Reel in een muziekcarrière die intussen als zo’n zestien jaar duurt toont aan dat er nog altijd groeipotentieel zit in deze artiest die wat ons betreft gauw op wat meer internationale (h)erkenning zou moeten kunnen rekenen, want zijn werk is behoorlijk straf en origineel en dat verdient een groter publiek dan momenteel nog het geval is.

AltCountry Forum

De Ierse bard Ben Reel is met zijn hoedje, mondharmonica met beugel en akoestische gitaar een karakteristieke verschijning in het metier. Zowel in de USA als in het Verenigd Koninkrijk en Europa is hij vertrouwd met de vele zaaltjes in het clubcircuit waar hij en zijn groepsleden hebben opgetreden. Daarnaast trad hij regelmatig op voor tv- en radioprogramma’s van de BBC en fungeerde hij als supportact voor artiesten als Jools Holland, The Cranberries, Hal Ketchum, Eric Andersen en David Olney. Zijn jongste album 7th is de opvolger van het in 2013 verschenen album Darkness & The Light. Opnieuw opgenomen in zijn eigen thuisstudio in het Ierse Armagh is 7th typisch zo’n plaat waarop een staalkaart aan muziekstijlen de revue passeren. Een mix van roots rock, folk, soul en reggae wordt met een vanzelfsprekendheid gespeeld die aangenaam aandoet.

Reels liedjes gaan tekstueel over herkenbare zaken waar je geen raketgeleerde voor hoeft te zijn om ze te kunnen begrijpen. Bijgestaan door vrouwlief Julieanne (achtergrondzang en percussie), drummer Michael Black, bassist Ronnie O’Flynn en gitarist Mick McCarney heeft het gezelschap een album geproduceerd waarop stilistisch van alles en nog wat is terug te vinden. In de atmosfeer die rond de liedjes hangt, tref je sporen aan van musici als Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Ray Charles, John Hiatt, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen met een flinke slok Neil Young voor de afdronk. Mij stoort dat in het geheel niet. In weerwil van de vele invloeden die gehanteerd worden, hebben Ben Reel en zijn kompanen genoeg eigen smoel en klasse in huis om ruimschoots te kunnen overtuigen.

Johnny's Garden

Mijn eerste, prettige, kennismaking met de muziek van Ben Reel was een paar jaar terug, toen hij optrad in mijn woonplaats. Ben Reel is een Ierse singer-songwriter die liedjes schrijft met invloeden die variëren van voornamelijk rock, tot aan soul, blues, alt folk/americana, country en reggae. In de loop der jaren heeft hij die invloeden steeds meer een eigen smoel kunnen geven. De kwaliteit van zijn songs wordt per album beter. Op de website van zijn boekingsagent in Nederland wordt zijn stem omschreven als een kruising van Marvin Gaye en Bruce Springsteen, een vergelijking die volgens mij wel hout snijdt. Die soul-touch in zijn stem maakt het zeer prettig om naar hem te luisteren. Op 7th blijkt duidelijk het vakmanschap als liedjesschrijver. Het opent met een viertal heerlijke uptempo-songs, met allemaal sterke refreinen. Hij schrijft trouwens teksten die niet veel tijd nodig hebben om doorgrond te kunnen worden. Na dit viertal volgt het eerste rustpunt met het ingetogen God’s World, een prachtig duet met David Olney. Overigens geschreven samen met Olney en Sergio Webb. Hierna volgt het heerlijke bluesy en lome Reflections of the blues. Vaak worden de liedjes voorzien van prachtige achtergrondkoortjes, onder anderen verzorgd door vrouwlief Julieanne Black. En regelmatig laat Ben horen dat hij goed met een mondharmonica overweg kan, zoals bijvoorbeeld in Back on the Road. Ierse invloeden in zijn muziek zijn goed te horen in Given it All, de blazers en koortjes lijken zo weggelopen uit een Van Morrison-liedje.

Ben heeft overigens duidelijk iets met Nederland. Niet alleen treedt hij hier vaak en graag op, zoals eind vorige maand nog samen met Ronald de Jong, maar ook spelen op 7th diezelfde Ronald de Jong, Jimmy Bakker en Hans Heidt mee. Bovendien werd het prachtige artwork verzorgd door Ewoud Koster. Het hoedje dat hij op de cover draagt, kreeg hij van Michael Prins, intussen een goede vriend van hem. Met hem schreef hij tijdens zijn laatste bezoek aan Haarlem een liedje. Hij zou graag in de toekomst samen met Michael Prins een aantal optredens willen verzorgen. In het najaar komt hij weer naar Nederland voor optredens, waarbij hij naast eigen repertoire, ook nummers van anderen speelt. 7th is Ben’s beste album en zou weleens een doorbraak naar een groter publiek kunnen worden.


Root Highway (Italy)

Ben Reel is a Northern Irish musician from the county of Armagh, south of Ulster, who apparently never did anything to disguise his love for the sounds coming from the other side of the ocean. His artistic history, as also confirmed by this latest work, didactically entitled "seventh", shows that it is not then mandatory to be born in Nashville, or have physically attended the Village, to write songs that smell of America. The fourteen pieces of 7th - including the 2 final bonus tracks that repropose new versions of songs already published - draw in fact from the folk tradition, rock and blues, with more than a few soul veins, proposing a range of heterogeneous styles that contributes to always make the record alive. The start is rather stradaiolo with a Lucky streak full of electric guitars led by Mick McCarney and Gerry Black junior, immediately followed by One of These Days, much more folklore, with the harmonica of the singer himself (no case raised at the neck, even on the cover) to chisel each curve of the piece. At the melodic level Crushed It no doubt stands out - in which the artist complains with his (now) ex who accuses of having literally destroyed the love he felt for her - Say, from the radio refrain, and the central ballad God's World. Perhaps the latter remains the highlight of the album, with the warm voice of David Olney (also co-author) to accompany that of Reel and an intense text that speaks of a world that has become rather difficult to live for everyone ("the blind leading the blind leading the blind ... ").

The noteworthy cues - fortunately - do not end so early and it is pleasant, for example, to enjoy the Near Springteen approach of Back on The Road, in which the Irish artist tells how hard it is to leave his home and his own affections to go around (probably on tour). But the promise, in the end, is to make it worthwhile for everyone on his return. Also not bad is the blues rock of Gimme Some Room - still harmonic and guitars of all kinds accompanied by organ and piano, both played by an excellent John McCollough - as well as the two lenses Many a Time (silver medal earned in the field ) and the acoustic and sweet Coming Round Again that, for expressive strength and quality, in my opinion would not disfigure in a record by Ryan Adams or Jason Isbell. Conclude by pointing out that it was a bit 'of time, sincerely, I hoped to listen to a record that had a carefree approach and yet played properly by an artist and a band clearly affiliated, without any pretense of wanting to change the world with the own album. After all, to be honest, to enjoy a few hours of music is not even necessary.

Darkness & The Light, Time To Get Real, New Horizon, Sweet Victory-reviews

Darkness & The Light reviews 2013

HOTPRESS review by Colm O'Hare April 2013


-Maverick Magazine June 2013- by Alan Cackett



"A stunning collection that confronts the everyday struggle of ordinary folk"

R2 Magazine Review July 2013 by John Atkin

IRISH TIMES review by Joe Breen July 2013


The Irish folk singer and songwriter Ben Reel debuted in 1999 with a surprisingly strong album "This Is The Movie". This was followed by four more albums with "Lost In The Haze" in 2001, "Sweet Victory" in 2004, "New Horizon" from 2007 and "Time To Get Real" in 2009, each plates of luck on getting bigger at the public could count.
Besides folk songs Ben Reel regularly dabbles in other music genres such as soul, blues, rock and Americana, which has made him. Throughout the years to a very diverse and esteemed musician Are cast in 2012 compilation album "Ben Reel: 10 (Compilation 1999-2009)" there is the most applicable license.
End of February 2013 his sixth official album under the title "Darkness & The Light" appeared with 11 new songs which were all included, although with the help of a series of stone good guest musicians such as guitarist Mick McCarney and Gerry Black Jnr., Keyboardist John in his home studio McCullough and violinist Colin Farrell.
That's a great songwriter Ben Reel is evidenced by some brilliant songs on "Darkness & The Light". We would like to reserve for "River Of Time", on the gospel-inspired "Watershed" and the first single from this album "Heart Just Will not Heal", two songs in the future or on some special mention in this regard cover versions of other artists will be able to count.
Furthermore, there is delicately enjoying the emotional "Counting Down The Days", "Flickering Light" and "What Is Done", a song that you are in a live acoustic version with Tommy Womack can see bring Ben Reel's in this review added video.

Whether it is so popular or not we do not really know, but both the songs and the voice of Ben Reel remind me of Michael Weston King, the brilliant British singer alt.countryformatie 'The Good Sons' and since many years as solo artist. The three songs "Before Your Time", "Our Father's Sins" and "You're Not Alone" also dive strong comparables on the work and even with the great voice of 'The Big O' Roy Orbison.

The album "Darkness & The Light" will certainly end up many times in my CD player and then to my personal record collection to be added. Most played tracks because with such and such beautiful music can Ben Reel endless contribute to feeling good and fine moments .




Ben Reel is a new name to me, but he really shouldn’t be. The Northern Irishman has released five albums over the last thirteen years with this new self-produced album being the first to be recorded in his own studio. Clearly he’s built a name for himself in that time, performing in America and continental Europe along the way. Apparently he’s embraced several styles; acoustic rock might be his default mode but he’s blessed with a powerful, flexible voice that has enabled him to take on soul, blues and reggae. You suspect that his musical heroes loom so large in his imagination (Van Morrison, Neil Young and Bob Marley are all, surely, on that list) that he can’t help but try and emulate them all.

          The eleven new songs on this album generally get a soulful rock treatment with big, expansive productions. It’s his voice that really drives things and whilst it’s tempting to play up a Van Morrison comparison, actually it’s more like an inspired combination of classic mid-60’s soul, Roy Orbison, and maybe a touch of that Roger Chapman vibrato in there – all in all, a hugely impressive voice to listen to, and, when he just lets it come easily, with his own individual warmth.  Give that voice a rock band backing with added keyboards, occasional string sections and stirring backing vocals from Ben’s wife Julieanne, and you’ve got something that sounds like premier league material. It’s full of lovely touches and some especially soulful flourishes on the electric guitar.

          Lyrically, he’s got a few songs here about the personal trials we’ve all known – about living with your mistakes or dealing with love that’s been lost – and a few bigger songs like Our Father’s Sins which seems to try and reclaim all the good things of an Irish heritage after growing up in the shadow of The Troubles. The title track could be dealing with the tussle to re-order the world after the recent economic crash, or, even bigger, the tussle between the two sides of our human nature. As philosophising goes, it doesn’t run very deep, but he knows to shove in the kind of comforting truisms that generally work in pop music. Whatever the song, though, he goes for a big production and why not? He’s definitely got the voice to carry it off. When this comes off well, it comes off very well and you could hear songs like You’re Not Alone or Heart Just Won’t Heal and wonder where this guy’s been hiding. Collectively though, it feels a bit over-egged for my taste and I can’t help feeling that we could do with a couple of more intimate songs to balance the thing.  There’s no doubt that Ben Reel’s made an impressive sounding record here, even if it’s a bit short on the real emotional honesty that would give it the wow factor.

John Davy


Release date 22.04.13 GET READY TO ROCK

You never quite know what to expect from Ben Reel.  Over his previous 5 studio albums he’s touched on rock, soul, blues, alt-folk, Americana and even indulged in a little reggae.

His new album, his first recorded and produced in his own home studio in Co. Armagh continues to keep fans on their toes – the opening title track is a monster with a wonderfully soulful funky indie groove.

The album doesn’t stick with that killer theme.  ‘River Of Time’ sounds like Dire Straits meets Chris de Burgh (which is better than you might think), ‘Watershed’ brings the Big O to mind, while ‘Heart Just Won’t Fail’ is heavily reminiscent of the Mersey’s ‘Sorrow’ (covered by Bowie on ‘Pin Ups’).

‘Before Your Time’ echoes The Boss (with a hint of Dylan) in storytelling gospel mode, ‘Counting Down The Days’ continues in the same theme but takes a more Van The Man bluesy perspective and is another highlight, while ‘You’re Not Alone’ returns to the Big O theme.

‘Flickering Light’ has soulful groove with some lovely slide guitar work, ‘What Is Done’  is another bluesy number, while’ Could Have Done’ is The Eagles crossed with Springsteen tripping down the West Coast.  The closer, ‘Our Father’s Sins’ is simply anthemic.

Recorded digitally, but with an analog warmth, ‘Darkness & Light’ might, on face value, seem a little derivative.  But the truth is, it immediately has the comfort of an old jumper, and on each subsequent listen begins to sound more and more like the best knitwear in town.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley

Review by Fatae magazine

Ben Reel
Album: Darkness And The Light
Label: B.Reel
Tracks: 11

Ben Reel is one of those artists that seems to work his nuts off, shedloads of gigs a year, both as headliner and support, but at the same time one that seems to pass you by unless you're in the know. "Darkness And The Light" is actually his 6th studio album and back in 2012, he even had a best of, "Ben Reel 1999-2009 Compilation 10" out. Well hopefully this is the album that will put a lot more listeners in the know.

You can pick up his Irish roots in the way he constructs his songs, not that the folk/Americana sound is particularly indigenous, it's more the poet lilt of the construction of the narrative. These are then delivered with a voice that seems like it's been built to deliver spiritual almost gospel elements.

He's also built a solid band around him, brother in law Michael Black(drums), Ronnie O'Flynn(bass) and Mick McCarney(guitar) for a sound, that whilst tight, definitely isn't over polished and sounds as if it could fill out venues from pubs to stadia.

It may be cliché, but "Darkness And The Light" really is one of those albums that makes you want to explore the artists back catalogue. You find yourself thinking how could I have missed this guy for so long, well I think it's Ben Reel's time to get discovered and no doubt he'll be hailed as an overnight success.

Neil King


The opening track in Ben Reel’s 10th anniversary album is a cracker. Rainy Night nails down the pang of loneliness that emigrants feel when they are far from home and someone says something that just triggers regret. The easy, soulful melody and performance underlines the impact, with Reel’s singing striking just the right note. It is the high point of the album.  The Armagh singer-songwriter comes across as an honest man determined to use his love of music to best effect, and his lucky in having a band full of expression and no little skill. The Irish Times, Nov 2009.



Ireland has a habit of producing good singer/songwriters and this guy is another fine example.Ben Reelproves his worth as a songwriter with his wonderful lyrics and expressive voice supported superbly with backing vocals from his wife Julieanne Reel and Kelle Redmond highlight the power of the music.Maverick Magazine, Feb 2010


A rural Band-like swell underpins Reel,s songs with terrific results. Overall, there,s no fat on the bone.

Jackie Hayden Hotpress April 2010

THE REEL DEAL   cd review from Jackie Hayden "Hotpress"
vol:34, issue 07 April 21st 2010
On this album "Time To Get Real", Monaghan,s Ben Reel explores the rockier side of folk-country while alsoadding his own personal bluesy twists. The loping "Rainy Night" has a Neil Young feel, forlorn lyrics and some cracking falsetto vocals. There,s a boot tapping Springsteen grittiness to "Feel Alive", while Julieanne Reel becomes his Emmylou for the delightfully upbeat "Summers Always here". A rural Band-like swell underpins Reel,s songs with terrific results. Overall, there,s no fat on the bone.


Ben Reel ~ ‘Time To Get Real   Hi Fi + Magazine (Drew Hobbs)

B.Reel Records / BRBCDA007

There are times in a music junkie’s life when one stumbles upon something so magical that it creates an insatiable hunger for more. An outpouring of superlatives follow, with a need to tell as many people as possible about this wonderful new singer or band you found when you weren’t even looking. The net’s scanned to see if there’s an album you missed or if said performer’s playing in a town near you. It’s in the car stereo permanently, it’s the last thing you play under the phones at night and it makes you late for work in the morning. Ben Reel’s music has done all that to me.                              Ben’s previous album, ‘New Horizon’ became one of my favourites of 2007 and this is having the same effect. The man’s a genius, a flat-out musical superhero. He comes from Ireland. He reminds me a little of Tom Petty, circa ‘Southern Accents’. Country and folk permeate the songs along with lashings of je ne sais quoi the Irish are famous for. He writes thought-provoking lyrics, employs his wife on backing vocals, hangs around with some pretty shit-hot musicians, sings like a dream and on the strength of the hidden track is an absolute must see live. His name is Ben Reel, and if you haven’t got any of his music yet then shame on you.

Music 9 / Recording 8

BEN REEL/ TIME TO GET REAL  /Maverick Country magazine UK

B. Reel Records-BRBCDA007

* * * ½

Ireland has a habit of producing good singer/songwriters and this guy is another fine example.

Ben Reel is from Silverbridge in County Armagh and started his first band back in 1989 as a teenager. That group was called Trim The Velvet and they broke up in 1997 whereupon Ben took a short break from music before returning fully charged with his debut album THIS IS THE MOVIE in 1999.

TIME TO GET REAL marks his fifth album to date and is a very good Americana CD. Tracks like the motivationally energetic Keep On Drivin’ with Ben’s expressive voice supported superbly with backing vocals from his wife Julieanne Reel and Kelle Redmond highlight the power of the music.

Old & Wise again proves his worth as a songwriter with its wonderful lyrics and punchy rhythm. He also rocks it up a little bit on the forceful Feel Alive.

Good album from this fine singer/songwriter. DK



Summers Always here" is an easy-breezy, Dylan-y affair while "Feel Alive" is upbeat acoustic soul at it's best"
'hotpress' (Celina Murphy) Oct 09


Live on Pat Kenny show RTE Radio 1 wed 21st Oct 2009

PAT KENNY (this band make great sound)



                    Elly Roberts reviews

The Ben Reel Band: Time To Get Real

Another little gem from the Emerald Isle. Rating: 8/10

Irishman Ben Reel has consistently released solid albums over the past 10 years. My last CD encounter was 2007’s fabulous New Horizon.

Now on his fifth album, Time To Get Real, keeps that tradition well and truly alive with a dazzling collection of Americana crossover songs that ought to have ears pricking at all the ‘real music’ stations. Reel has a penchant for ignoring fads and trends keeping the focus on real music which is why he’s become a cult artist in his native Ireland, though sadly he hasn’t been picked up as genuine singer-songwriter in the UK. Everybody in the business knows he’s hot stuff having supported Jools Holland, Alabama 3, The Cranberries and stage star Michael Ball no less. The good news is he doing rather well in Holland, Belgium and Germany.

As an introduction to the album he’s released Feel Alive as a single. The down and dirty groove has some sublime guitar licks carried by a great melody and his rough edged vocals.

This box of delights opens with a gentle country shuffle in the form of Rainy Night as the band moves with confidence and swagger, again with Reel dropping in some superb guitar breaks and a fine line in vocal gymnastics including falsetto along with a Neil Young-like harmonica swish. The introduction of songbird Julieanne Reel on the deliciously tender love ballad Summers Always Here only adds to the romantic mood. With a troubled heart he gushes with lyrics like – “You’re like the warm summer sun that’s rising / Feel your warm love in my heart / Melting away the cold ice of winter / The storms have passed / There’s a new life on the way.”

Embracing an eclectic mindset, Keep On Drivin’ takes on a C.C.Rider rockabilly hue drenched in honeyed vocals, stylish pedal steel, thumping basslines and wah wah, whereas Time Slips Away is deeply reflective, yearning for his childhood days and the onset of wisdom now he’s turned 35. A heavy funky bass, rolling organ, and acoustic chords make Who You Are the albums catchiest song, with the main hook coming in the chorus.

For Old And Wise Reel delves deep into a more traditional Irish template which brings forward his wishes not to die a typical rock’n’roll death – “Don’t wanna overdose like a rockin-roll star /Or choke on my vomit after whiskey in the jar.” By far the best song on the album, closes it – the stripped back dusty-bowl ballad Old Bog Road. Reverbed harmonica leads to gentle acoustic picks, chords slabs and wailing solos, on what is essentially a mournful ballad.

The verdict – Quality album.




Time to Get Real
B Reel CD

Pop music doesn't have to be an endless quest for novelty. The fact that Ben Reel's sixth album could have been released at any time in the past 40 years is not a put down. Music that uses conventional instrumentation and basic folk/roots/pop forms doesn't have to be humdrum and predictable - it's all down to the song. Ben Reel's songs ooze a romantic Irish melancholy and passion. 'Summers Always Here' is a gorgeous love song. On this, and several other tracks, the pure female backing vocals of Julieanne Reel (wife? sister?) really complement Ben's singing, which is not to say he's a slouch in this department himself. The other ballads, like 'Time Just Slips Away' are also strong, mixing folk, pop and alt.country influences, with lots of brushed drums, unpretentious guitar and subtle keyboards. Apparently Mr.Reel has been playing for over two decades and this is his sixth solo album in ten years, but he has managed to stay off my radar until now. For new listeners this is a good place to start.
Phil Suggitt- shindig Magazine (june 2010)



www.benreel.com Inspired by the likes of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Ben Reel is a singer-songwriter from Silverbridge, County Armagh that merges his work with country rock Americana yet it is his passion and ability as a genuine story-telling that see him grasp emotions of the heart.

It is twenty years since as a teenager he formed his first band, Trim The Velvet but it is as a solo recording act his talent and writer of greater depth he has come to develop an audience. Possessing a warm vocal delivery and backed by The Ben Reel Band of Ronnie O’Flynn (bass), Michael Black (drums) and Mick McCarney and guests John McCullagh and Colin Farrell and backing vocalists the sound is solid and complete.

Mixing standard singer-songwriter reflective songs with the occasional gritty, rock driven affair as in ‘Feel Alive’, Hal Ketchum-ish ‘Keep On Drivin’ (and there is a live version tagged to ‘Old Bog Road’) and with him playing on the stereo-typed abuse inflected on themselves by rock‘n’rollers ‘Old & Wise’. Simple and true to life through not his best writing by a long shot it is set to become big a crowd pleaser. Of stronger critical value Reel’s harmonica plied ‘Old Bog Road’ has him capture the essence of life and how he wants to find a reason before he goes down that old bog road, and like with the powerful opening track ‘Rainy Night’ he creates imagery of a tangible quality. Typical of his Irish heritage it travels the world and like with ‘Time Just Slips Away’ and the rhythmic ‘Looking For A Lost Horizon’ where he is found looking for a better world he spins a spot of home spun philosophy much good is to report.

Of a bluesy edge ‘Who Are You’ shuffles aided by excellent use of keyboards, electric lead guitar and impressive soulful vocal harmonies it could just as easily have been recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and not County Monaghan (how times have changed, for the better too). It is good and quite funky too, and if you are feeling a little bit mellow ‘Raise You Glass’ projects a great deal of sombre hues and an evening tide feel.
Maurice Hope

Ben Reel : Time To Get Real – CD, BRBCDA-007;B Reel Records
Album Kindly Submitted by G-Promotions


Style : Americana
Rate (1-5) :

Ben Reel is the latest addition to a series of Americana artists emerging from Ireland! Against the backdrop of the troubles in Northern Ireland, Ben first picked up his guitar when he was 15 years old inspired by greats like Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young. Today this inspirations are still to be found in his passionate music!

Leading track “Rainy Night” is one of those tunes that you start to whistle along without ever having it heard before! Country and Americana are the main genres on this album but this doesn’t mean the album is limited to it. On “Feel Alive” Ben comes with some enjoyable soul influences while “Keep on drivin’” throws in a lot of country as does “Looking for a Lost Horizon”. “Old & Wise” throws in some old styles and mix folk influences into this Americana tune. On “Time To Get Real” the title track of this album, Ben Reel, returns to his old habits and creates a song that could be from the hand of “The Boss”. Closing down the album is “Old Bog Road” that opens with a beautiful haunting blues harp. The haunting keeps going on, both with his voice and slide guitar! As an extra, hidden track we can hear a nice rockabilly kind of version (Live) of Keep on Drivin’ in a mix with the classic “Train Train”

Time To Get Real is already the fifth album for Ben Reel and in the past two years he has successfully toured Holland, Belgium and Germany steady working on a growing fan base. Back you’ll can find him as supporting act for bands like the Cranberries, Alabama 3 or Jools Holland. The album is a true Americana effort and comes with handful of interesting tunes that makes me feel that this artist need to be in the spotlight a little more.

Mr Blue Boogie



Ben Reel “Time To Get Real” (B. Reel, 2009)

From The Emerald Isle.

Irish singer songwriter Reel has released five albums in the past 10 years and started his first band “Trim The Velvet” over 20 years ago. Ireland has an impressive array of songwriters, most of whom alas go totally un-noticed. Let’s hope Reel breaks that mould.

The single ‘Feel Alive’ rocks along like the man has filled stadiums for years. Whereas ‘Keep On Drivin’ opens like Tony Joe White doing an Elvis number circa ‘CC Rider’. ‘Time Slips Away’ features some fine lead guitar wailing away in the background, but coming to the fore when necessary; just as the best guitar playing should do. It gives the album an air of familiarity.

‘Looking For A Lost Horizon’ is a catchy little ditty that jaunts along without a care in the world, and ‘Who You Are’ bounces around in its funky vein. ‘Old & Wise’ conveys Reel’s wish to become somewhat of a sage as a result, or perhaps despite of, his rock’n’roll lifestyle.

This band gel so well together it feels like they’ve been together for years. Sometimes bands just do that – it’s not forced, it simply happens. The title track picks up where that other excellent songwriter James Dunn left off. ‘Summers Always Here’, part of the double A sided single, also seems to have picked up on Dunn’s influences and like Dunn, Reel covers all the bases; freedom, moving away from home, isolation, ageing, love and hope.

Don’t switch the CD off when the final track ‘Old Bog Road’, with its opening haunting Springsteen like harmonica, finishes, as you’ll miss the rousing hidden live version of ‘Keep On Drivin’ (briefly segueing into ‘Mystery Train’ - a hit for Elvis), which shows these excellent musicians doing what they do best. One for the “live in concert” section of my radio show for definite.

Date review added:  Saturday, November 28, 2009
Reviewer:  Phil Edwards
Reviewers Rating:


"Irish Eyes, Lungs and Hearts are smiling with this charming indie folksters release...

This is the fifth album from the Irish singer songwriter folk hero.

 Ben Reel is a Artist, his songs scream out with heart and warmth and intention
With shades and moments of Neil Young folk-rock, and bursts of Bonoesque emoting... it is an album thats ticks boxes and fulfills its remit of a being an attention  grabbing piece of artistry."




BEN REEL Time To Get Real (2009)

Play this new Ben Reel CD to any music aficionado, and ask them where it was recorded. Nine out of ten would say Nashville. Guaranteed.

Now, Ben Reel may not be a household name (yet), but let's assume for a moment his work is unfamiliar to you. OK, what genre music would you say Time To Get Real was? No problem - southern, country blues rock.

And name any influences you can hear at play? Again, no problem - Neil Young is an obvious one, but also Springsteen and perhaps Chris Isaak and even a little Clapton circa 361 Ocean Boulevard.

So, nationality? No brainer - a man from the deep south of the US of A.

Wrong on all accounts, because Time To Get Real is the 5th album in 10 years from Irish guitarist and singer songwriter Ben Reel. And naturally it was recorded in Monaghan in the north of the emerald isle.

In reviewing Ben's last album New Horizon (2007) - which had an altogether more 'west coast' feel - we pondered on image, and what might make Ben stand out from the likes of Marc Cohn.

It may be that with Time to Get Real, and diving deep into Americana, Ben has found his niche. Beautifully played and recorded it's bound to strike a chord with the market that's fuelling the resurgence of Neil Young, and Springsteen's exploration of the American psyche.

But the challenge is still to get his music across the pond. It's not easy to crack America - many have tried and failed, but the rootsy warmth of the songs, the soulful singing and classy playing (some wonderful blues guitar and harmonica work) would undoubtedly be lapped up with a little exposure.

So remember the name - Ben Reel - a real class act.


Review by Pete Whalley


Ben Reel Time To Get Real B. Reel

Northern Ireland native Ben Reel has delivered a roots album that is full of strong songs and good playing. There’s some solid keyboard playing, a rhythm section that drives things along and some very tasty guitar from Mick McCarney. Reel’s voice is accompanied by welcome backing vocals that help to portray the mood of the songs. Rainy Night sets the tone for time and place, a song that looks at what has been missed by moving away from your home town. Other topics are ageing, freedom, the nature of searching and of truth. Mature songs for a mature audience that’s given a melodic and malleable musical base that could just as easily have come from the States as from Northern Ireland. Reel no doubt has taken from those who have also come from the North, such as the undeniable influence of Van Morrison as a beacon of musical innovation. Reel does not have Morrison’s track record, but this is an album that shows all the signs of a true talent making his own way.



It’s time to get serious is the signal Ben Reel gives with the release of his latest cd “Time to Get Reel”. Wasn’t he before? Haven’t got a clue because for me Ben Reel is a complete stranger. He is (northern) Irish and has been working at his craft for quite some time.

“Time to Get Reel” sure is a good way to get to know him and the cd is full of piercing impulses. Delicate songs, strongly carried by the accompanying musicians, but by no tarnishing ben’s Vocals. (His vocals show comparisons to Rod MacDonald and John Stewart). I hope that I grow old and wise suggests that Ben has come to an age where he starts realising his own mortality, what undoubtedly determines the profundity you find again in his lyrics.

With what I don’t want to affect his compositions. As I said before, I only know Reels past from what I read in his biography, But “Time to get Reel” indeed looks like the start of a new development, a new awakening. No trace of a personal crisis. My guts tell me Ben Reel has defined he wants to make a good product. One he will be remembered by. The closing song “Old Bog Road” tells of a permanent goodbye Ben Reel manages to create a excellent variation of styles, and within a limited nr of spins I still a real positive feeling about Ben Reel. Serious, skilful. driven …. (after the official songs there is a hidden track, a live song, where you hear the presence of a modern day Elvis. Not renewed, but very entertaining.



BEN REEL – Time To Get Real

Posted: November 29th, 2009 | Author: Liz | Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Ben Reel, Liz Croly | No Comments »

“Time to Get Real” is an overpowering album, beginning with “Rainy Night” which holds that typical country feel with a striking harmonica introduction portraying a noticeable influence of Neil Young which becomes more apparent as you listen to the album. Reel grew up in County Armagh, Ireland and first picked up a guitar at the age of 10, it seems that this was the wisest decision he could have made. The album is packed with beautifully emotional lyrics and when combined with the powerful guitar you find yourself occupied by the album and without realising it’s over.
Backing vocals from Julieanne Reek are especially exceptional on “Summers Always Here” and furthers the romantic feel. As the album continues you experience the wide range of musical variety Ben Reel has to offer, with more upbeat tracks with a funk beat such as “Who You Are” as well as the more traditionally Irish “Old & Wise” not to mention the title track which combines all styles put forward on the album to create a successfully typical country rock penultimate track to begin the end of the album. “Time to Get Real” ends with the mostly instrumental track “Old Bog Road” which is the non visual equivalent to a theatres encore, powerful and memorable- two words that I believe may best describe the album.


www.rootstime.be /Rein van den Berg Oct 09

The Irish hearts are often rather melancholic. Maybe the beautiful sceneries see to a tendensy of warmth and retirement. It characterizes at any rate the dark songs of Ben Reel, which the cover of the newest album, time to get real, suggest. Eleven songs written by reel himself and richly arranged with violin, piano, appropriate guitar lines and a choice of extra additioned instruments.

With this the Irish know how to display a large scale of spheres and feelings, carying names as Neil Young and sometimes Bob Dylan. Indeed in rags, because Ben Reel is a slippery costumer.

Ben’s first album, “this is the movie”, came out in Ireland in 1999, after this the EP ëxorcise me”(2000) only with 3 tracks, which seemed to be forerunner for his second album “Lost in Haze” (2001). After that came Sweet Victory (2004), U People (2006) and New Horizon (2007). We don’t have to complain about man’s releases and qualities: guitarplayer Ben Reel, born in silverbridge but now living in Castlebalyney, is a supreme storyteller; has a pleasant voice, writes, beside that, upperclass songs and has also the quality to gather very able musicians around him. At his new album Ben Reel is accompanied again by a fine equilibiated band: Ronnie, Michael. Mickey, John, Colin.

And now we are calling names: the recordings were done in the Attic studios with producer Ronan who also has a vocal contribution in the last two songs. In the quite openers Rainy Summers etc. we hear Reel’s wife Julieanne who takes the change of the singing second. Anyway, in their natural but yet larger soundscape is more than enough space for improvisation and variety, which we can hear clearly on their new album.

What Ben has settled with this successor is impressing. In 11 songs the band knows to create an oppressing atmosphere, which gets enlightened only now and then. Rasping and grating, then again with deceptive lovely acoustic guitars, then with thin guitarsounds and spacious violin, the listener is taking to a voyage through the Deep South of the mind, which only can turn out bad. It is oppressing, dark, stirring and especially very beautiful. Roots, pop and folk are going hand in hand with now and then an experimental strain.

The point is that Ben Reel makes magnificent music. Music that mixes influences from alt-country with the atmospheric and darkness the music from Ireland so often charcterizes.

Music that attracts attention by the variety and the highstanding music, because they really can play. Ben Reel searches, with his new album, joining with the greatness of the alt-country, but takes here at the same time surrender. Time to get real is just a good patterncard of the ability of the Ben Reel Band.

Everything sounds beautiful, clear and especially respectable. The sharp ends are removed expertly and almost everything is produced in a way that it has to be specially accessed for the singersongwriter radiosize.

Freddie Cells




Ben Reel

Album:Time To Get Real

Label:Self Released

Website: http://www.myspace.com/benreelband

I guess when it comes to the blues, growing up in Ireland gives you a real introduction to spirit and passion and not always in a good way. There's lots to inspire and Ben Reel has absorbed those influences and let them inform his particular style of travelling blues. "Time To Get Real" isn't a classic troubadour album, but it is deep hearted blues packed with characters, places and just a wee bit of drinking. The songs are strong through out, all could standalone without being thought of as filler. Time to step up from being a solid support to being the headliner.


BELGUIM http://www.ctrlaltcountry.be/Pagina1.htm#BenReel

BEN REEL “Time To Get Real” (Ben Reel)


Ireland has long been enjoying a good reputation, where the singer-songwriters are concerned. And with Ben Reel has another one to be proud of. With "Time To Get Real" the man has just delivered his fifth album in ten years time, and that is a very beautiful album. Reel is gifted with a warm, a little soulful vocal style, shows himself a truly excellent song smith and professional manner together in genres like rock, pop, folk, Americana and blues into his songs. He calls himself Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young as inspiration, but there really is not much sign of that. Reel sounds like a particularly original. Someone with a vision of his own writing and placing songs. Someone with an own sound. And it would absolutely not surprise us if he behave the songs on "Time To Get Real" soon break on larger scale. He fully deserves it already! Songs like it a little reminiscent of Neil Young "Rainy Night", the beautifully subdued piano and harmonica work on-going rootspopdeuntje "Summer's Always Here", the soulful rockin 'Feel Alive', the bluesy bounce "Keep On Drivin '", the summer, somewhere between pop, folk and country resident "Old & Wise" is simply magnificent.

(Ben Reel is doing these days also Netherlands and Belgium for some gigs. On November 13 he is as such in McCormack's Irish Pub in Turnhout. And De Sport in Geel On Monday 9th


Ben Reel is part of the wide array of successful songwriters born and raised in Ireland. More precisely, the North and administratively part of the English crown. Yet in his music are heard echoes of Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen rather than those of the island's musical tradition. Twenty years ago Ben Reel Trim The Velvet founded the group while her debut album This is the Movie goes back to 1999. Among his collaborations Jools Holland, Alabana 3 and the Cranberries. Time to Get Real is the fifth solo album of his production and songwriting reveals a very mature. Feature that is revealed from the first track "Rainy Nights fact voice, guitar and harmonica, and highlighted by Time Just Slips Away from the piano, while" Feel Alive and Who You Are "shows the soul of rock Reel. Bella and instrumentation essential Raise of Glass. Ben Reel from the disc proves to have great potential also live. Let us hope they can be accommodated.

Michele Manzotti

www.rootsville.be  Belguim

Time To Get Real ".... Indeed, despite the hard work of five albums in a period of 10 years it seemed that singer / songwriter Ben Reel spot kick was particularly unfortunate because not only ..." Just Times Slips Away "but the Irish singer / songwriter is clearly more international attention. The final breakthrough seems the album" Time To Get Real "to finally come because of" Feel Alive "to Rod Stewart - in Younger - days (with John Mc Cullagh on piano / organ), to the "You Is not Going Nowhere / Down in the easy chair" linking opening track "Rainy Night in Ireland" and "Summers Always Here", with one of Jimmy Dale Gilmore / Flatlanders nasal-like voice and gospel - esque "Keep on Drivin '" the man from Castleblayney, Monaghan clearly not only our musical heart stolen. "Raise Your Glass" for Ben Reel and his idealist vision of a better world (What's wrong with peace and love and end all war?) for each of us, "Old & Wise", to put your faith in peace and love - from "Who Are You" even more of that wisdom has.

I can see the clouds are clearing, I can see the clear blue skies, I can feel my fear is fading, Blowin away your seeds of doubt, just cast them out ... from the title track "Time To Get Real" and the closing track "Old Bog Road" I do strongly think that living legend Steve Young and Ben Reel immediately implies that for a while doing good is cruel! (SWA)


Dutch to English translation

Very recently came from Time to get real, the fifth full-time CD of Irish singer-songwriter Ben Reel. For me a great unknown, but already 20 years active in music since he was a teenager in 1989 founded his first band, "Trim the Velvet '. After the breakup of this band eight years later, Ben's solo tour in 1999 and came from his solo CD's available. With five number one so he just scored an average of two years each.

Ben's music is best described as Irish mid-tempo alt-country, the songs are nice sound and treat a number of pressing issues for Ben. He describes one part of his life and Rainy Night Time just slips away, do proclaim his feelings, especially love, respect, in four songs and shares his thoughts with us and future expectations in another four songs. He concludes (No. 11 is) a kind of summary of this in Old Bog Road: Seasons change as people come and go, life and death is the endless flow. Want to find the answers, because the story to be told, is not gonna quit the mining for gold. Want to find a reason before I go. Before they take my body, down that old bog road. Heavy thoughts for a guy who has several years of the 40 removed. But we are not all looking for the deeper meaning of life? Incidentally, after more than six minutes of the final number is still nearly six minutes a lasting valve closure, which Ben totally in style and tempo rocking (leading to a sodden organ) announces yet another time by a wish to: (I 'll) keep on driving, a live concert recording and a perfect valve. Always funny, some unexpected hidden track.

Ben's band was great response and are in addition to Ben's acoustic guitar (and occasional harmonica) bass, drums and electric guitar. A few songs do keyboards and violin along. Ben has a somewhat gritty but pleasant voice. His wife Julianne sings along to eight songs, four songs is half Bloch (e, you never know with those Irish first names) to hear. I think it's a good CD, especially through the expressiveness of the songs both lyrically and in terms of melody (Fred Schmale)


Ben Reel 'Time To Get Real' - review (7/10) - RootsHighway.it (Italy)


Certainly can not say that Ben Reel, Irish Silverbridge (Northern Ireland), was not heard tons of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Bob Marley too much. Reel is an artist who has devoted decades to the music of life - its the first band Trim The Velvet were born in 1989 - and ten discs produced on his behalf with tenacity and consistency. His fifth album may be an incredible compilation of previously unpublished from these artists, an act of infinite love towards American music and this sounds terribly wrong, as well as uninteresting, if the quality of parts, production efficient and versatile voice and Ben did not pleasant jolt the heart with emotion and pleasure of listening to so much of God

The eternal debate about music derivative I think he did his time and we simply need to calmly assess whether the product quality and, if so enjoy it without preconceptions. Time To Get Real is the emblematic case of how you can give birth to some interesting pieces, referring to models, as is evident by listening to more Younghiana Rainy Night (the ballads) you can not, or Time Just Slips Away with which Ben realizes his Ring Of Fire and Cash would be happy. The title track Time To Get Real Boss seeping from every pore while in the country as more pieces Summers and Who You Are Always Here his nasal voice and his style of composition approaching that of Jimmy Dale Gilmore.

In short, a product not disfigures the face of many more works titled targati USA For the benefit of those who were intrigued add that reggae is another great love of Reel and there appears blurred in the Old & Wise, but the top executive of our gender we can enjoy going to watch the video on youtube U People (Studio Version babes ), the lovers of the time on the upbeat (and not the more classic reinterpretations impapocchiate today) I will leave gratified, a song of great emotional impact test result of a vocal and choral Ben throughout the study really high level. In short, as increasingly happens, another artist from across the Channel with both DNA from the other side of the Atlantic

(Gianni Zuretti)



Ben Reel

Album:Time To Get Real

Label:Self Released

Website: http://www.myspace.com/benreelband

I guess when it comes to the blues, growing up in Ireland gives you a real introduction to spirit and passion and not always in a good way. There's lots to inspire and Ben Reel has absorbed those influences and let them inform his particular style of travelling blues. "Time To Get Real" isn't a classic troubadour album, but it is deep hearted blues packed with characters, places and just a wee bit of drinking. The songs are strong through out, all could standalone without being thought of as filler. Time to step up from being a solid support to being the headliner.



Put simply and aptly, New Horizon is all killer, no filler! Rarely have I heard an album so complete and so fully realised. From the brilliance of the playing and arranging to the magnificence of Reel's voice, this is heaven all the way. A superb album by an artist good enough to hold his own in rock’s premiere league.

                                                Andrew Hobbs, Hi Fi + magazine

When it comes to making classy albums, Ben Reel's your man. Year on year, Reel's songwriting is growing in stature in every department, yet he still doesn't get the wide spread recognition he richly deserves
it's one of the strongest albums this year. This CD isn't just music: it's art.

            AllGigs.co.uk review of New Horizon, 8th October 2007

Ben Reel, a native of South Armagh, has in the words of one journalist ‘operated under the media’s radar for far too long’. On the evidence of this release, his fourth album, I would have to agree. The songs and the playing are really impressive, an earthy mix of rock, roots and blues, all mixed lovingly together with soulful vocals. His song writing shows maturity and progression which comes through with repeated plays. Featuring some great slide guitar from Micky McCarney and terrific vocals from Kelie Redmond, “Hell In Ur Own Head” is a standout, closely followed by the semi spoken “When Will Be Ever Be Free”. “For U And I” shows the band at their best with a lovely rock/soul groove that you wish would go on longer. All in all this is an impressive album from a major talent who needs further investigation.

Chris Field, Birmingham Post


Ben Reel stands at the threshold of true greatness as an artist.’
                                                                                        Pat Cunnane, Radio Kerry