[sic] Magazine

My Autumn Empire – The Village Compass

I knew from the first play, (if not first bar) that My Autumn Empire was Ben Holton from Epic45 . He has such a distinctive voice, neither powerful nor carrying any particularly great range but nevertheless perfect for the music it accompanies. I would go as far as to say I love Ben Holton’s voice. It is something I never had opportunity to express before because I never received an Epic45 record to review. However my personal collection was augmented a year ago by the quite stunning In All The Empty Houses , mini album. Yours should be too if it isn’t already.

My Autumn Empire isn’t totally the same as Epic45. I suppose we can say that it is one side of Epic45. This works in a literal sense, Holton being one half of that duo, but also in respect of the style and content. It now becomes clear that Holton brings the light, acoustic side to the parent band, whilst his Epic partner Rob Glover , by process of elimination, must take care of the programming, beats and rhythms. Bereft of Glover’s input, The Village Compass is a more organic feeling record. It’s a village busk rather than a city bedroom album. Themes are similar –childhood, memories, yearning for summers past, grazed knees and home -made lemonade, etc – again we’d expect that as it’s the same singer.

Only half the tracks on The Village Compass carry vocals. The rest are instrumental. These are decent, pretty even, but anonymous. His voice is really his signature and the sung ones certainly work best for me but that may be my Epic45 bias coming out again. That band really is special. If you know Epic45 already, May Your Heart be the Map is probably the closest in style to The Village Compass . If you don’t know them – off you go to Norman Records and buy buy buy. You can thank me in the morning.

Oh and Ben – ‘Walking Away’ – that’s The Jam , isn’t it? ‘The Bitterest Pill’.