Ben Carroll
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Ben Carroll

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Soul


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"Soulful and sensuous"

Soulful and sensuous - Seven Days (Burlington, VT)

""Angelic and robust""

Last Thursday, students were given a free performance at the Java City Café by the solo artist, who spent an hour soothing souls and enchanting hearts using nothing other than his voice and acoustic guitar.

From the moment he took the stage, Ben captivated the interest of everyone in attendance--even the café employees who were equally mesmerized by his extraordinary guitar playing and the simultaneously angelic and robust quality of his voice.

“He’s really talented,” said junior Megan L. of Ben after the show, “and there was just something about his songs that really captured everybody’s interest.”

Perhaps that something is the poetic nature of Ben’s storytelling capabilities. With topics ranging from sexuality to love and murder, each song Ben performed told a story in very intimate detail through approximately 200 words or less. The end result: a very personal ambiance through which the 26-year-old singer/songwriter seemed to connect with every soul that occupied the room.

That connection is one of Ben’s reasons for performing to begin with, as the musician states that “music is a special thing that people often look to for inspiration and comfort” which he seeks to provide for his audience in a “deep and meaningful way.”

Ben’s idealistic musical ambition might stem from the fact that he was raised by successful musicians himself. His parents are none other than Margot Chapman and Jon Carroll: members of the 70’s band Starland Vocal Band, which took home the 1976 Grammies for Best New Artist and Best Arrangement for Voices. As such, his musical distinctiveness can be considered a fine-bred quality.

As far as what that distinctiveness actually sounds like, well, that’s a little more difficult to describe. Ben certainly hasn’t limited himself to any one musical genre. Often, as with the song “This Love Inside Me,” his guitar playing takes on the characteristics of a bluesy, soulful feel, which he alternately accompanies with his soulful, motownesque vocal range. Songs such as “Angel’s Arms” incorporate gentle strumming and a 50s-sounding refrain. And that only begins to scratch the surface of his musical variety.

“Lover Undercover”, which is Ben’s first solo release, features 11 songs that are all different yet all charmed with his unique sound. Listeners will detect influences such as Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and Patty Griffin, as well as hints of indie-rock, doo-wop, and folk.

That being said, I’m going to take this opportunity to remind our readers that I myself am a fan of all things loud, belligerent, and angry, and still, I was just as moved by and enthralled with Ben’s musical dexterity as everyone else last Thursday. For some reason, which I’ve summed up as pure musical genius, it doesn’t quite matter what you’re into; if you’re human and you have a pulse, you’ll likely be moved in some way by his album. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

It just so happened that local heavy-rock band Anon’s lead singer was in attendance Thursday night, and called Ben’s performance a “soft, subtle and soulful experience that felt very intimate and inviting,” enough to make him “spend the ten bucks to own Ben’s disc.” Need I say anything more?

In addition to establishing himself as a talented music artist among the MU community, Ben established that he’s a humble, genuine person who hasn’t been corrupted by the all too common “rock star ego”, as well. He took the time to talk with students after his performance, and eagerly took a tour of Wilson Hall.

For those who unfortunately missed Ben’s performance, I suggest going to his website at and sampling some tunes for yourself. If you like what you hear, you can buy the CD online, as well as view a schedule of his upcoming performances in the New York City area. It would be wise to catch a performance of his now, as I predict he’s already a legend in the making.

-Debra Pachucki

- The Outlook - Monmouth University Student Paper

"A Throwback Sound"

Real Thing...Yes he is. I've seen this handsome and charismatic New Yorker perform with just an acoustic guitar, and he killed. Possessing a clear, sweet voice and a satchel full of catchy folk-pop songs about life and love...It's a throwback sound, kinda early Nilsson, but more upbeat.

-Dusty Wright - Culture Catch

"A heart-on-sleeve mix of folk and soul"

A heart-on-sleeve mix of folk and soul.

-Scott Gordon - The Onion


Ben Carroll’s songs are an opus of emotive vocal melodies gliding across sparse acoustic guitar strums. His music is simplistic and yet complex with vocal slopes, extensions and climaxes. His presentation is humble but not at all meek. His singing is pleasant and yet aggressive with an effortless flexibility to create melodic folds where there is no music, only his voice forming the mounds and dynamic shifts. There are no frills or large cinematic productions in his repertoire, but rather his songs are unadorned, bare and vulnerable like a newborn baby, and enraptured in the same innocence.

His track “Lover Undercover” is sparsely instrumented with light acoustic guitar and heavily concentrated in the movements of the vocal tones. The bluesy/folk textures in this number are reminiscent of the vocal elasticity of Joss Stone, Jason Mraz and Cat Stevens. His lyrics are bare and revealing with phrases like:

"To sleep on your sofa fills me up/And leaves a dent upon my head/Of things that you dream of me/It’s a symphony of all the moans, all the smiles in your eyes"

His lyrics are poetic and yet tangible. His phrases are straightforward and bold, and move with a contemporary feel like his song “Luv You So,” which has a Motown vibe similar to Stevie Wonder, John Legend and B.B. King. The piece has a catchy groove with vocals that carry the listener on an exotic journey. His voice is inviting and disarming with an alluring resonance like Ryan Cabrera and Aaron Carter.

Carroll’s vocal versatility on “Angel’s Arms” has a meditative, hypnotic vibration like the vocal resolutions of Vivian Green and Alana Davis, making the tune appeasing to the senses. His track “Dola Rosa” has a Spanish, rhythmic sway with a softer Ricky Martin sonority and the deeper bends and vulnerable voicing of Shakira.

Ben Carroll’s music shows influences from the ‘70s folk styles of Cat Stevens, James Taylor and Jim Croce as well as elements from more contemporary artists like Joss Stone, Suzanne Vega, Jason Mraz, and Ryan Cabrera. Carroll has meshed these generations of musical influences and made a blend that suits his revealing, open nature and vocal dexterity. His songs are tailored to fit his proportions, and yet they somehow reach out to people and fit their needs as well. Ben Carroll shows that songs, which please him, also have the capability to please others. It’s music that serves him and yet simultaneously serves others.

-Susan Frances

- Northeast In-Tune - Regional Music Website

"Soulful Lilt"

Growing up under the influence of...harmony-infused folk and pop, Carroll has found his own musical identity by incorporating a soulful lilt to his James Taylor acoustics.

-Mike Hilleary - Style Weekly

""A cross between John Legend and John Mayer""

Ben Carroll, a solo artist who is a cross between John Legend and John Mayer, played the prestigious indie rock club The Living Room in New York City, known for featuring artists on XM Radio’s program “From The Living Room To The Loft.” His show included a cappella numbers, folk tunes, blues ballads, and jazz pop suites. Like Legend and Mayer, Carroll’s vocals caressed the lyrics and actually massaged the notes as he played the acoustic guitar and created a rhythm in the melodies that gave them a funky beat. Joining Ben was bass guitarist Greg Richardson, who produced undertones of jazz grooves in the songs.

Acoustic blues pop arias like “My Darling True” and “Lover Undercover” showcased Carroll’s romantic side with a little Spanish zest on “My Darling True” and some vocal pirouettes around the lulling guitar chords. The stand out tracks were his rendition of Prince’s hit song “Kiss,” in which he kept the perky vocal tweaks and hooks that ornament the melody, and the encore number “Don’t You Mind People Grinning In Your Face” in which Carroll had the entire audience clapping along to the gospel pulsed beats. The a cappella finale was done without a mic, relying completely on the natural amplification of Carroll’s voice filling the venue. It was the most vocally demanding song in his set and he saved it for last when most singers feel at their weakest, but Carroll was at his strongest.

The songs in the set were all new aside from “Lover Undercover” which is the title track to Carroll’s debut album. Ben Carroll’s sophomore release is tentatively set for 2007. He revealed that it will be a collaboration with his father, singer-songwriter Jon Carroll. If it is anything like his show, the album will show multiple acoustic influences from blues, pop, funk, jazz, and folk, working in harmony with his deep, rich vocal textures.

-Susan Frances
- Hybrid Magazine - National Music & Film Site

""Ben Carroll: Soul Singing Is Back In Style""

Growing up in the shadows of music history, it was probably destiny that Ben Carroll would follow his parents' lead and become a musician. And it was only a matter of time before Carroll would utilize his father's talents on one of his records, which he does extensively on his upcoming release.

His second album, which will be released in the next few months, was co-produced by his father, Jon Carroll, who also plays on every song. Jon Carroll and Ben's mother, Margot Chapman, were part of music history as one half of the Starland Vocal Band. That group's debut record in 1976 included the timeless hit, "Afternoon Delight" - a song that always seems to pop up in a new movie or on a television show every few years.

Ben Carroll carries on the family tradition of soulful singing and R&B music. While his first record showcased his soulful singing ability against a folk & blues background, his new record brings out the Stax/Motown flavor with a full band sound.

"I love all that old Stax soul and Motown stuff," said Ben Carroll. "I produced it with my dad and he was reared on that stuff."

Carroll grew up in the Washington, DC area and now lives in Brooklyn. He did some acting early on, but it didn't take long before he began focusing solely on music.

"I grew up in a great musical household, but they never forced it on me," he explained. "I always sang and just enjoyed music and that aspect of life. I think that after a matter of time I just realized it and accepted it." One thing that stands out about Carroll's music is his songwriting. He writes crisp, descriptive lyrics that flow and blend wonderfully with the music. Never one to be hung up with genres, he moves fluidly from folk to soul to blues to pop.

"I think artistically speaking it's a little bit pigeonholing to talk about influences because I don't think about that stuff too much, as much as what's right for the song while I'm writing it and while I'm performing."

His work is beginning to get noticed from the industry as well. He was one of a few songwriters chosen to be a part of the BMI 2007 Contemporary Professional Songwriting Workshop, which ran for eight weeks in New York City this past spring.

The upcoming record will feature 11 original songs and should be released in October. It is being released throughout the UK on the Orchid Music label and available everywhere online.

-Gary Wien - Upstage Magazine


Real Thing - 2007 Blue Cloud Records
Lover Undercover - 2005 Luckytone Records



Ben Carroll's soulful, powerful voice lives somewhere at the crossroads of Stevie Wonder and James Taylor--he's captivating, distinctive, mesmerizing. With the help of his accomplished acoustic guitar playing, Carroll moves his audiences with his plaintive songwriting, written from the heart and with a thoughtful, keen eye, while exploring the endless themes of love, of a search for a place and meaning in the world. A soul and folk artist at once, Carroll has steadily toured North America and Europe as a solo act since 2004. He released his debut solo album Lover Undercover in 2005 and his followup Real Thing in 2007 (on UK label Blue Cloud Records), which was #1 for five weeks on AAA FM Radio in Ohio and was played on over fifty radio stations in the US and Europe. His songs have also been featured in television and film, most recently in Pier's End Productions' 2008 release "Wake", which premiered at the Tribeca Cinema in New York City (home of the Tribeca Film Festival). Amore Magazine's reader poll voted Carroll a top solo artist, and his songwriting and performances have been celebrated by the New York Songwriters Circle and BMI New York.

Coming from a musical family as the son of Grammy-winning Starland Vocal Band members ("Afternoon Delight", 1976), Carroll enjoyed a rich musical exposure in his childhood, chiefly in the veins of harmony-laden folk and pop of the 70s, and the R&B/Soul/Roots sounds of the deep south. These influences have been naturally integrated into his music, lustrously evoked by his poetic delivery and his voice of startling honesty and beauty.


• Spent several years before 2005 as a member of pop/rock/soul band The Minors, based in New York City, and of world folk band Baraka, out of Philadelphia; these collaborations produced one full-length album and two EPs, while keeping an international touring schedule

• Released second solo studio release "Real Thing" in 2007 on British indie label Blue Cloud Records; went #1 for five weeks on AAA FM Radio in Ohio and was played on over fifty radio stations in the US and Europe

• Released first solo studio release “Lover Undercover” on US indie Luckytone Records in 2005; was described as "bare and revealing...Carroll's lyrics are poetic yet tangible, and his vocals are reminiscent of James Taylor and John Legend."

• Performed live on American FM radio stations WXPN (Philadelphia), WVIA (another NPR station, in Pittston, PA), WRNR (Annapolis/Baltimore) and WAMC (Albany)

• Songs have been used in numerous programs on MTV, Country Music Television and other television programs internationally

• Composed and performed original music for the New York Off-Broadway production of "The Good Thief", by Irish playwright Conor McPherson

• Wrote and performed original music for the soundtrack of the short film "Jason's Song", by writer/director Shane Tilston, in which he also appeared on-screen

• Selected artist to participate in the New York Songwriters Circle showcases in 2008, at the Bitter End

• Invited by BMI to participate in their 2007 and 2008 Contemporary Professional/Advanced Songwriting Workshops

• Lyrics to original song "Dola Rosa" were selected for publication in American Songwriter Magazine (Nashville) as part of their August, 2005 edition

• Voted a top male solo artist of 2005 in Amore Magazine's Readers' Poll (Portland, ME)

• Invited to sit as a panel judge for Mountain Stage's NewSong Contest (NE Regional Round), a national singer-songwriter competition of high esteem

© 2010 Ben Carroll. All Rights Reserved

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