On a Monday evening inside Joe’s Pub, Australian folk singer Ben Abraham was finishing the last leg of his American tour. In between passionate performances of songs from his 2020 sophomore album Friendly Fire, Abraham jokes with the audience letting them know they’re much more energetic than his Portland audience. Abraham first gained recognition for his 2014 debut album Sirens. Since then he’s become an in-demand co-writer, including co-writing Kesha’s iconic anthem “Praying.” Listening to Abraham, this notoriety isn’t shocking. His lyrics conjure feelings of a first love, a worst love, and love to come. His warm yet powerful voice carries the lyrics with ease.
During a portion of the performance Abraham discusses the deeper contents of Friendly Fire. He asks the audience: “what happens when you set a bomb off in your life?” This is a reference to his upbringing which was deeply spiritual and saturated with music. He explains the six years after his first album were a kind of spiritual reckoning. Friendly Fire takes us through this journey and the conclusion which broadened Abraham’s spirituality and sexuality.
A highlight of the evening was a surprise appearance by Shoshana Bean.
Abraham tells the story of their meeting which began when Kelly Clarkson rejected a song written by him. The song, which has the lyricism of Carole King with the sound of Aretha Franklin, was given to Bean who adored it. This love is obvious as Bean sings with conviction and Abraham gleams from behind the piano. They’re the definition of synergy. The song ends with a standing ovation, and Bean agreeing to record the song with Abraham. Considering Abraham’s charisma, raw talent, and dedication it’s well deserved. The moment feels like a gleeful milestone in Abraham’s budding career.