Charlottesville, Virginia-born and New York City-based singer/songwriter Ben Arthur plays a lot of house concerts and sings a lot of slow-rocking, quietly sentimental songs. “When my heart dropped with a wet thump out of my chest to land at your feet, I thought it was best not to breathe a word,” he sings on the country-ish two-step “Tattoo.”
There’s a tongue-in-cheek quality to Arthur’s music. He’s a clever lyricist, but he also has a smooth, pliable voice and leaps octaves with the ease of a Chinese acrobat. Not that Arthur sounds like James Taylor, but he sings with that kind of folky good-guy flawlessness and sometimes that distracts from his quick wit.
But Arthur has the good sense to know how to make the most of his pretty voice, turning out the pop-savvy duet “Sun Also Rises” with Rachael Yamagata on 2008’s Mouth Feel.
Last year’s release, Roadkill, included 14 live tracks from Arthur’s tour (the majority recorded at Bowery Poetry Club); for something really different, check out the Audioklash mix of “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”
Back on the road, Ben Arthur plays the LAB on Tuesday, May 18. 9:30 p.m., $5. If you make the show, wish him a happy birthday: he turns 37 on May 20.