Benjamin Francis Leftwich’s fourth album comes with a heavy title: To Carry a Whale. “It’s an observation on what it’s like to be a sober alcoholic addict a couple of years in,” he explains. “A whale is heavy to carry. It’s gonna hurt you to carry it. But it’s also beautiful, and it’s a miracle to be able to carry all that at all.”
London-based Yorkshireman Leftwich is now 31 and a decade away from his debut album, when he was one of the first signings to the Dirty Hit label – still his home alongside The 1975, Wolf Alice and Beabadoobee. Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm cracked the top 40 in 2011 and included Shine – a cute, romantic indie folk ballad that was remixed by tropical house king Kygo and named by Spotify their “most addictive song of 2014”, as the song that was repeat-played most often that year. He operated at the forefront of that wave of young men with acoustic guitars and big feelings to express – Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, James Vincent McMorrow – a style that never shouted, but proved highly popular.