Born to Welsh and Polish parents in Stoke-On-Trent, the rising British singer/songwriter and guitarist Benjamin Belinska relocated to Newcastle when he turned 17. He didn’t settle in Newcastle for very long; eventually he drifted around Europe, spending stints in Glasgow, Berlin, and Paris, supporting himself through a series of menial jobs, ranging from museum cleaner to estate gardener. During that period. he wrote music on borrowed guitars and stolen notebooks, garnering praise from the French press and the BBC along the way.
While in Paris, Belinska met E.A.R. and the duo started the band Paris, Texas, which released two Kramer-produced albums before deciding to relocate to Newcastle together. Two things happened to Belinksa, which may have altered the course of his life:
“Rushing to get a connection, I left a suitcase in York station. It was never recovered. Most of the early songs disappeared,” Belinska says in press notes. “Some months later, I was walking from home work and was randomly assaulted by a gang of four in broad daylight. During the recovery, I decided to stop drifting once and for all. As a first gesture, I would record a new album.”
The new album Belinska recorded, his solo, full-length debut Lost Illusions was released earlier this year, and the album’s first single, the Palace Winter-like “Young in Baltimore” reveals a songwriter, who can pair breezy and shimmering radio friendly soft rock, earnest, lived-in songwriting and an unerring knack for crafting an infectious, pop-leaning hook. But underneath the song’s breezy radio friendliness, is an achingly bittersweet lament evoking the inevitable and unstoppable passage of time, of nostalgia for seemingly simpler times, the uneasy compromises that every adult has to make and live with, the forced upon conformity to make a living and survive.
“The song is about regret, nostalgia and conformity,” Belinska said in an email. “It was inspired by Robert Frank’s photo-book The Americans and The Magnetic Fields. I played and recorded it myself and it was mixed and mastered by Giles Barrett and Simon Trought at Soup Studio, London.