Local Music Reviews #14 : Ben Mark Smith // Ryan Brooks // Mollie Ralph


Ryan Brooks
When Will I See You Again? (Single)

Ryan Brooks is a singer-songwriter from Derbyshire. The usual energetic sound of Ryan’s music takes a sidestep for this latest single ‘When Will I See You Again?’, for a far more relaxing tone. The song is introduced with a ukulele and Ryans vocals, and from there on brings in a bass, piano and acoustic guitar to add texture and build the song dynamically. Lyrically the song focuses on being apart from the people you care about, a very close sentiment for us all at the moment, and one that I feel works perfectly with the almost relaxing composition. A third way through the song an acoustic guitar solo is brought in, which I loved, as it’s not used as much as you’d might think it’d be (outside of acoustic sessions of course), bringing to mind songs like ‘Patience’ by Guns N Roses. A really nice song for the time we are in at the minute and features an also very fitting music video. Have a listen from the link below.


We’ve brought a guest in to review this new single, as Ben Mark Smith usually writes the reviews and it would be a bit odd if he reviewed his own music, wouldn’t it. So a huge thank you to Sam Jones of the band Pretty Babs who has written this piece.

Ben Mark Smith
One Year On (Single)

Recorded and produced by Ben Marshall Productions

Ben Mark Smith’s debut full-band single ‘Who’s the Girl?’ created a domino effect of cover versions and drunken renditions from audiences, hugely indebted to its extremely memorable chorus. One important effect was the significant one applied to the Nottingham music scene as a whole; with open mic nights, organised festivals and consistent networking already under his belt, Ben managed to print a communal stamp on the music community around the NG area and install a feel-good sense of songwriting. 

Alas, this has continued with the release of his second single ‘One Year On’, recorded during the sessions with the excellent Ben Marshall Productions. The new single picks up a similar vibe to its predecessor- the lyrics depict a sense of nostalgia, self-reflection and what-could-have-been’s, however Ben implies a more optimistic outlook towards his infamous female protagonist, as well as his own experiences and successes on the Nottingham music scene. There’s an element of a down-to-earth, almost colloquial message in the chorus, where Ben claims that, despite his recent successes, he would ‘Drop all that in a second, ‘cause you were really fit’. The tune’s message is simple and tongue’n’cheek, but ultimately human at the same time. 

And, much like Ben himself- it’s pure Nottingham-ness. 

The Frank Turner-esque vibes remind the listener of the ‘Love, Ire & Song’ era of Ben’s musical influence; this is a fun, festival-friendly tune that is no doubt suited for the encore at a Ben Mark Smith gig. With an energetic backing of drums from Brad Drury (Pretty Babs) and established production from Ben Marshall (The Fine Art Society, Pin-Up Media), Ben has created an instant folk-rock classic that would fit nicely on an Xtra Mile Recordings release, whilst at the same time maintaining that sense of individuality and purpose. 

A fantastic summer-vibe effort from one of the hardest-working people on the Notts scene!
Key lyric: ‘5 pints down and a Jagerbomb, that sway becomes a stagger…’. Great stuff


Mollie Ralph
Fella (Single)

Mollie Ralph is singer-songwriter from Nottingham. ‘Fella’, Mollie’s new single, looks at the themes of emotional wealth over material wealth, an interesting topic delivered through the story of a woman looking for loyalty in a relationship. Instrumentally the song feels heavily influenced by the R&B/big band sound of artist such as Etta James & Amy Winehouse, with it’s rimshot drums and melodic through-line from the brass section, the genre replicated perfectly in its staccato stab section from the entire band. Mollie’s vocals cut through the big band sound with ease, driving the song dynamically from it’s verse to choruses using her extraordinary use of range and control. ‘Fella’ is a fantastically upbeat track, which also displays a message, and a great addition to Mollie’s recent stream of singles. Go have a listen from the link below.

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