If ever a simple Youtube video told you everything you needed to know about a particular up-and coming-artist it is Ben Poole’s unforgettable live rendition of the classic Temptations track “I Know I’m losing You.”
Poole’s version announces its sinister mission with a searing riff that cuts as deep as Dennis Edwards’ icy vocals from the original. This is not a pleasant little love song, not a gentle ode to undying devotion. It is a song that wants to cause pain. And in the masterful hands of Ben Poole, a Gibson Les Paul might as well be a meat cleaver held against your jugular.
About four minutes in, there’s a breakdown, a slower pound of drums, a steady bass figure looming in the background, celestial keyboards brightening adding light to the mood. But don’t be fooled. It’s only a brief respite, a chance to catch your breath before the menace begins anew.
Then Poole launches back into the assault, screaming, screeching, howling with his guitar in a way that reminds any blues fan of the very best of those who have ever played the instrument.
That’s all the introduction to Ben Poole that you need. And that’s the reason that any fan of the blues who sleeps on this young talent is in danger of missing out big.
Poole’s background is surprisingly low-key for a man who wields such a threatening guitar. Born and bred in the UK, this young fretboard wizard got an early start at dazzling the blues world. By the age of twenty-two he had already boasted a resume that listed such names as Gary Moore, Jeff Beck and John Mayall as either admirers or collaborators. Poole seems poised for greatness.
Ben Poole - i know i'm losing you
At the seasoned age of twenty-five, the young Brit’s praises are being sung by many, fueling his reputation in a musical realm where reputation is everything. Defying simple categories, Poole’s style is too confrontational to regard as standard-issue roots blues.
Clearly his sound is infused by the blues-based rock and roll that his beloved nation has made famous for the last few generations. And yet even a quick listen to the music he’s created revealed a young man who’s done his share of homework on artists and genres from places and times highly foreign to him.
And while shades of past rock and blues glory can be found in his playing and song styling (Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall stand out most as influences) there is, of course, much more to Poole’s blazing work than mere mimicry. You’d have to reach far back into the Blues’ past to find an artist who found a unique voice so quickly.
As a vocalist, Poole’s approach differs from his guitar playing. If his guitar seems eager to puncture his listeners with deep wounds, his voice sounds more like that of a wounded victim. The influence of the most wounded voice of all – Otis Redding – is underscored by his cover of Redding’s Mr. Pitiful. Somehow the two approaches create an unmistakable sound.
It is often said of first albums that while they may not always represent the artist at their very best, but are frequently the artist at their rawest. Ben Poole’s first release, an EP called Everything I want makes it clear that in his case, the best is his rawest.
A five-song assault that strikes the ears like a door being kicked down by a brazen newcomer. When Ben Poole arrives, he’s not here to mess around. All five tracks go straight to the soul, pounding you into submission, but offering you a healing hug afterword. Pool happily reminds us that sometimes blues has to hurt a little.
Everything I Want
If Poole’s bank account begins to swell in the coming years, his first investment may be in a new, larger mantle-piece as his figures to get awfully packed with the awards he’ll soon be racing up.
From being voted “2012’s Best Newcomer by Blues Matters magazine to representing the United Kingdom at the 2012 European Blues Challenge in Berlin (finishing third among nineteen worldwide entries) Poole is well on his way to fulfilling the promise of his extraordinary talent. Currently two of Ben Pool’s releases are available on Itunes, a five-song EP called Everything I want, and 2014’s Live at Albert Hall. Be warned: like many high-octane experiences, Poole’s music may be leave you traumatized. But it’s the kind of trauma you’ll want to re-live again and again.