Belaver, the solo project of New York City-based songwriter Ben Godfrey, creates folk music with unusual stories—sometimes insightful, often irreverent, and always humorous and lyrically adroit. This style continues in Belaver’s newest release, “70’s Adventure”, a love poem-cum-tragedy framed by childhood nostalgia.
The song’s structure is as plain as the early memories themselves: an acoustic strum accompanied by a lackadaisical percussion beat. Each measure is punctuated by a single, echoey pop sound that—to this author—sounds like a soda can being opened on a hot day. Other listeners may hear something different, depending on their own memories.
But the complexity of “70’s Adventure” is in its lyrics, not its instrumentation. There’s melancholic poetry in every line, subtly supplied by Belaver’s deadpan voice: “They catch your eye / And out of your eye, I fade.” Though the song’s situations seemed spitballed, they’re delivered with a deliberate sense of balance, such as in the clever line, “We can live without, within our means.”
And, of course, “70’s Adventure” is funny. When the protagonist hits his love interest with a key lime pie, she responds by putting a deadly scorpion in his shoe. It’s unfair, sure, but you can’t help but smile at that horrific escalation. The song ends quite abruptly once the protagonist becomes an adult—a bitter-funny finish, and perhaps a sign of the diminution of imagination with age.
It should be mentioned that the music video is just as pleasantly irreverent as the song itself. In playing the leading role, Godfrey shows just how much expression he can put in an expressionless face, deadpanning his way down the river, surrounded by memories and fantasies. But though he’s impassive, you won’t be. You’ll be smiling or crying. Or both.
Review by Alex Figueiredo