Ben Lee

Breathing Tornados

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Breathing Tornados Review

by Becky Byrkit

Apparently Ben Lee's been getting a good deal of the proper encouragement and studio connections needed to get away with such an "It's okay to be inoffensive" record. Because Breathing Tornados is inoffensive, and it is okay. Many listeners will bristle at 12 songs that essentially intend to instruct you how to live a wise and healthy life, sung by a guy scarcely older than your teenage brother with that hip nasal inflection going around among young solo acoustic acts these days. Although often compared to Beck, P.J. Olsson and Ben Folds, Lee is not a great innovator, although "Nothing Much Happens" is something of a sparkly centerpiece among relatively unremarkable two-chord singalongs like "Cigarettes Will Kill You" and the catchy "Birthday Song." An awful lot of precovered angsty territory is sloshed over again in "Burn to Shine" and "Ship My Body Home," reminding us that youth is the question and the answer, the problem and the solution ... to that elusive something that gets referred to on this record a lot, yet never actually named. As on the sleepy anthem "Tornados," Lee is attempting to figure it out, and hopefully he'll reign disappointed enough in his quest to keep searching, thus keep making records.

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