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” - Eamon Carr

— Evening Herald

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)    ” - Chris Elstrodt

Folker magazine (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” - Jeremy Frost

COUNTRY MUSIC NEWS INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE & RADIO SHOW

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)” - Dmitry M. Epstein

DMME.NET (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 ****  ” - Ute Bahn

— InMusic(Germany)

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” - John Gjaltema

Alt.Country.nl

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”

CTRL. ALT. COUNTRY

On his eighth album Land of Escape, the Irish singer-songwriter Brendan Gerard Reeldeviates from the more electric sound of the excellent predecessor 7th. The new albumis 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 contributionsto 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 andhad 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-” - Theo Folk

Music that needs attention (NL)

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” - Freddie Cells

Rootstime.be

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).” - Huub Thomassen

www.realrootscafe.com (Netherlands)

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. Summary Intelligent and uplifting songs addressing many issues of the day. 3/5 stars” - Michael Farley

Americana UK

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