ALBUM: Benjamin Clementine ‘At Least For Now’


A cloaked figure, nimble fingers and bare feet sits in front of his piano. Surrounded by the watchful eyes of Sir Paul McCartney and Alex Turner, his captivating performance transfixes the entire audience in silent reverie. It was this intriguing recital of ‘Cornerstone’ on Jools Holland’s Later that introduced me to Benjamin Clementine, and with this as my guide, I was equally as fascinated to hear the rest of his album.

At Least For Now is Clementine’s story of the two cities that have shaped his life. The album cover shows both the blue for Paris and red for London, Clementine himself standing between the two. He begins with ‘Winston’s Boy’ and Churchill’s famous speech of 1940: “Never in the field of human affection had so much been given for so few attention”. Accompanied by solemn cello, it shows that this isn’t just a man and his piano, adding another dimension to the song, though it would sound equally as powerful without it.

If it wasn’t for the necessity of having to earn his living as a homeless busker, then agent Aysam Rahmania might not have discovered him, allowing Clementine’s cult status to remain intact. Though I feel he deserved his big break sooner after hearing his struggles before fame caught him up. ‘Nemesis’ is a playful ditty with a big chorus. His broad London twang shines through. Nina Simone influences are present in this upbeat song, a welcomed change to the previous sombre renditions.

His style is one of individuality. Self-taught, his carefree technique does not abide by parallel lines or structure but goes wherever it pleases and is a true reflection of what he is really feeling. London is obviously a very important place in Clementine’s life and the title track really explains his self-assurance: “I will not underestimate who I am capable of becoming/London, London, London is calling you, what are you waiting for?”. No more “jumping Parisian metro barriers” to make a living. Paris could not offer him any more, leaving London as his only option.

The essence of the album is one of trails and tribulations, of overcoming obstacles and coming out on the other side. Clementine has a mythical presence about him, one that not everyone will understand, though At Least For Now is a personal insight into his journey and is something that you will all want to discover. It helps that he paints his picture with such vivid colours.

“When I become someone one day I’ll always remember that I came from nothing.” At just twenty five, he seems like a worldly wise individual, comfortable with the decisions he has made and also with his growing success. Clementine has embraced the hard times, which has gone in his favour, and his talents will no doubt see him succeed far beyond what he could ever have foretold from his early days in Paris. I just hope that he doesn’t become and “one album wonder” as he has given so much away with this debut. Let’s hope there is a sequel to At Least For Now, the struggle of one man in two cities.

At Least For Now is released on 30th March via Behind, under exclusive license to Maison Barclay. 

Natasha Moran


Tash Moran

Tash Moran

Leicester based writer and photographer