Press Articles & Interviews
Freedom - And Salvation
[An Album Review By Peter Barnett - March 2010]
If an album ever heaved a massive sigh of relief, it's Freedom by Ben Mills.
Three years in the making, it finally lays to rest the ghosts that have haunted him since his days with the television talent circus X Factor.
He's not ungrateful for his exposure from the show but the stifling creative shackles that bound him in the aftermath have finally been released and his almost tortured past forms the central theme to many of the songs on Freedom.
A rapturous reception at the launch gig at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury, on Saturday helped allay Ben's fears of playing a whole concert of original material (bar two covers). He needn't have worried – the material on Freedom sounded even better live, more intense, more poignant, more urgent.
Working with excellent musicians live and in the studio, Freedom is an impressive selection of personal statements, and the title song spells it out with references to "tearing off the chains" to escape the "fake chameleons" that hounded him.
Fade Away, like Freedom co-written with the excellent Greg French, is an even harder poke in the eye at 'product music' with the heartfelt lines "music's for the soul, not a karaoke show."
Emily, The Life of Riley, Never Letting Go and Waiting for You (co-written with Take That's Mark Owen) are my favourite tracks; but the superb The Strength To Love Me, featuring Ben and sax supremo Tony Rico, steals the show for me, with Ben's vocal reminding me of Rod Stewart circa Mandolin Wind (yes, that good!).
The album production is crisp and punchy, creating a great live feel to all the tracks, and it is the perfect soundscape to complement Ben's songs.
So a new chapter begins for Mr Mills, no longer an ex X Factor but very much an accomplished singer songwriter. Ben may think the album is his Freedom – to me, it's his salvation.