Tunisia is the brainchild of 28 year old singer songwriter, Ben Craven – a talented solo artist who credits such diverse performers as Pink Floyd, Brian Wilson, Sheryl Crow, and orchestral composers Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, and George Gershwin as major influences. So is it any wonder his music has been christened by many as ‘cinematic rock’?
Ben Craven ‘is’ Tunisia. He dispensed with the ‘band approach’ to compose, perform, engineer, and produce his debut album independently. The result, “Two False Idols” is a finely crafted collection of tunes, showcasing his talents as musician and songwriter – balancing commercially acceptable progressive rock ballads (i.e. - no side long tracks or mini-epics) with energetic rock and roll.
Craven doesn’t bore the listener with extended solos and guitar pyrotechnics. Instead he crafts his tunes around catchy hook laden melodies, brilliant songwritting, and richly orchestrated arrangements. His guitar texture on the first track “Great Divide” sets the tone for what is to come, with a pleasant David Gilmore quality to it – bringing to mind Gilmore’s latest “On An Island”.
Track Two, “Captain Caper” begins as a Mexicana-flavored rocker, seamlessly shifting gears to something echoing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, then morphing into vintage Floyd. Very cool tune.
Beautiful ballads like “Over” and “If You Knew” remains with you long after the CD quits spinning. The same can be said of “Look Away” which harkens back to tunes found on the Ray Wilson/Genesis album “Calling All Stations”.
“Enough About You” and “Not Me It’s You” are witty 70s’ styled country rockers that could easily have been on Steve Miller’s “Joker” album.
“Two False Idols” closes with “Celeste”, a beautifully haunting instrumental track – one of my favorites.
Although artists prefer to think of themselves as unclassifiable and unique, readers unfamiliar with the artist come to expect comparisons for reference purposes, to which I would suggest Pink Floyd, RPWL, Steve Hogarth era Marillion, and the solo work of Kevin Gilbert. The ten tracks on the CD get a 10 out of 10 rating.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on August 24th, 2006