Ben Reel bears his influences on his album sleeve, acknowledging on the cover of The Nashville Calling that he’s a fan of Bruce Springsteen and becoming understandably gleeful that this, his 9th album, was recorded in Nashville with bass guitar duties taken by Garry W Tallant of the E Street Band. So it’s hardly surprising that the ghost of Bruce flits in and out of the 11 original tracks, as if he’s keeping a fatherly eye out. He’s there in the arrangements, some melodies and the style, although Reel’s voice never reaches the bombast of his working-class hero. So fans of both Bruce and Ben (guilty on both counts) should feel at ease here from the opener ‘All In Good Time’, born for a stadium singalong. ‘Tough People’ even slips in a 1-2-3-4 count, and it could be an anthem for these challenging times. “Tough times they never last, tough people do”, Reel sings in a lyric that also touches on bankruptcy, redundancy and greedy banks, the Troubles, and how to survive them. The croonsomely soulful ‘Like A Breeze’ glides smoothly along with a catchy melody. ‘New Jerusalem’ is a solid 12-bar floorfiller, while Reel’s harmonica on ‘Fine Wine’ will also strike a chord back in Asbury Park. But it’s not all Bruce. ‘Round The Next Bend’ is a seductive slow-mover, with Reel’s voice as deliciously expressive as Roy Orbison. The album ends with plaintively with ‘Borrowed Time’, also featuring Will Kimborough’s tasty electric guitar and harmony vocals from Julianne Black Reel. Her backing vocals bring much to the album, especially on the mid-tempo ‘Up There In The Sky’ which starts as a more introspective item but soon builds into a wailing rocker with gritty electric guitar from Kimborough. The Nashville Calling is arguably Reel’s most inspired album to date, and a useful reminder that no artist of merit creates in a vacuum. 7.5/10”

Jackie Hayden - Hotpress, The Nashville Calling review March 2020

The Irish singer-songwriter, musician and producer Ben Reel from Silverbridge, South Armagh seems to us to be just about the most unrecognized top artist of the past two decades. Since his debut album "This Is The Movie" from 1999, he has released one great album after another. More or less it is actually impossible to conclude about the albums "Lost In A Haze" from 2001, "Sweet Victory" from 2004, "New Horizon" from 2007, "Time To Get Real" from 2009, "Darkness & The Light ”From 2013,“ 7th ”from 2015 and“ Land Of Escape ”from 2018. After having been active for ten years, he also brought his best songs from that period 1999-2009 together on the beautiful compilation album“ 10 ”. Nobody should be surprised that we are very pleased to hear that a completely new album by Ben Reel is coming. "The Nashville Calling" is the title of the eleven beautiful songs containing the ninth album that, as the title suggests, was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee. The producers of this record, which is almost completely recorded live in just three days, are the living Nashville legends Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack. They also play along with the songs sung by Ben Reel: Will Kimbrough on guitars, piano, melotron, mandolin and dobro and Tommy Womack on electric guitar. Both have also provided backing vocals, while the Bruce Springsteens' "E Street Band" bass player Garry W Tallent played the bass guitar and Evan Hutchings the drums and his lovely wife Julieanne Black Reel took care of the female backing vocals. The velvet voice of Ben Reel sounds superb in the eleven self-composed songs inspired by Americana and country rock rhythms that can be heard on "The Nashville Calling". It all starts with the uptempo song "All In Good Time" and the exceptionally easy-to-hear "Tough People" that reminds us of the sound of supergroup "The Traveling Wilburys". In terms of voice we find Ben Reel occasionally close to the late Roy Orbison. We hear that especially in the ballads on this album, songs such as "Safe And Sound", the wonderfully emotional pearl "Round The Next Bend" and the two harmonica-inspired songs "Fine Wine" and "Broken". Furthermore, it is also immeasurably enjoying the first single released song "Up There In The Sky" (see video) and album closing "Borrowed Time". Ben Reel will present the new songs from the album "The Nashville Calling" live in March and April together with his best older work during a series of performances that unfortunately will only take place in the Netherlands. At many of those shows he will be accompanied by his Dutch band "The Haarlem Boys" who will then take over the task as instrumentalists from his Irish group "The Ben Reel Band". If you had the opportunity to attend one of those shows, we can highly recommend a visit to such an event.” - Freddie Cells

Rootstime, Belguim - The Nashville Calling review -March 2020

In the Netherlands, Ben Reel has built up quite a reputation in the past two decades, mainly thanks to the many live performances that he gave here. Like Gregory Page, he now knows the roads in the Netherlands better than many Dutch people. It is not surprising that on the day of the release of his ninth album The Nashville Calling he will be promoted in the Netherlands. As always, his albums never disappoint. Alternately, the beautiful predecessor Land of Escape was a bit more subdued and a little less rootsy than we were used to from Ben. Ben went to the Skinny Elephant Recording Studio in Nashville to record his latest album. For the production he could call on Will Kimbrough, one of the best musicians in America, which also applies to co-producer Tommy Womack. In addition, he had bassist Garry Tallent, known for the legendary E Street Band. The album was recorded live in the studio in just three days. The uptempo opener All In Good Time immediately makes it clear that Ben has made a more Americana and rootsy album, on which almost all songs contain the backing vocals of lady sweetheart Julieanne. And as we are used to from Ben, his singing is always full of passion. The Nashville Calling is yet another wonderful addition to his expanding body of work, fans probably know enough.”

Theo Volk, Music that needs attention (NL) - The Nashville Calling review 2020

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. Land of Escape review 2018

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) - Land of Escape review 2018

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”


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 review 2018

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) - Land of Escape review 2018

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 - Land of Escape review 2018

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 - Land of Escape review 2018

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) - Land of Escape review 2018