Ben Talmi Reminisces On His Hometown In New Album Berkshires

Photo Courtesy of Ben Talmi’s Spotify

Anyone looking for an indie pop album that evokes strong feelings of nostalgia should check out Ben Talmi’s new album, Berkshires. The acoustic guitar takes center stage alongside Talmi’s strong grasp of storytelling, to create songs that are short stories and odes to the people and places of Berkshire County. 

Berkshires is Talmi’s love letter to his hometown of Pittsfield, MA, which resides in Berkshire county (hence the album name). Much of the album is dedicated to the people from Talmi’s childhood, such as friends, family, and other neighbors and characters in his hometown. His appreciation and positive feelings for Pittsfield and the surrounding area shines throughout all eight of Berkshires’ tracks. 

Even the album art is steeped in nostalgia, and influenced by Talmi’s childhood in Pittsfield. The album art, hand painted by Robert Gunn, is a nod to Norman Rockwell’s iconic Saturday Evening Post illustrations. Rockwell’s home and accompanying museum are the subject of every Berkshire County middle school student’s field trip memories and a staple in Western Massachusetts history. 

The first song on the album, “Berkshires,” paints a series of vignettes, such as the night Talmi and friends paid tribute to The Ramones by hanging a giant “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” banner above Pittsfield High School. This is described in the lyrics, “We’re gonna paint a sign that says/ Rock and Roll High School/ We’ll hang it up for all to see/ And all will think we’re cool.” Other memories include playing drinking games and going to parties, along with other embarrassing and terrifying coming-of-age experiences. 

The second song off the album, as well as the first single, is “Ralph & Mary.” “Ralph & Mary” is reminiscent of 90s twee combined with classic 60s and 70s chamber pop. Ben’s inspiration for the song was the story of his grandparents, as he states, 

“Ralph & Mary” is a true story about my grandparents who served in WWII and used my grandfather’s GI bill to fund their diner, “The Sugar Bowl” which they ran for 40 years.”

The music video, directed by Noah Sandvik, features Ben visiting landmarks in Pittsfield, MA. 

Watch the music video for “Ralph and Mary” here:

“You’ll Get Yours in Time” is the third song on Berkshires, and serves as a letter from Talmi as an adult to his younger self. He also addresses all the other kids he knew when he was younger, asking, “Whatever happened to those kids I knew/ I just saw Sam got married too.” The combination of acoustic guitar and Ben’s vocals at the start of the song creates an intimate atmosphere. Even when the drums come in at the chorus, the beat remains soft, to maintain this almost whimsical feeling as Talmi sings of the memories of his childhood friends, and questions about where they are now.  

“Canoe Meadows” takes a different instrumental approach to the other songs on the album, as the drum beat is the main focus, with the piano, violin and viola supporting it throughout the song. Although there is guitar, it isn’t as apparent as it is in the rest of the album. The song is about escaping to “Canoe Meadows” to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, so changing the instrumental to reflect that further drives home the song’s message. 

“Couldn’t Cut It On The Violin” chronicles what Talmi describes as his, 

“Memory of being terrified of my tyrannical violin teacher and the subsequent trying and failing to become the next Itzhak Perlman.” 

The song starts off at more of an upbeat in comparison to “Canoe Meadows,” as it continues with the heavy drum beat. “Couldn’t Cut It On The Violin” also focuses on the violin, and this combination with the more upbeat drum brings the listener into the feelings of nervousness and intensity that plagued Talmi. He also states in the lyrics, “Think I’ve started maybe/ 20 something Indie bands/ So much for my parents plans.”  

Following “Couldn’t Cut It On The Violin” is “Tanglewood.” “Tanglewood” is a celebration of the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and is, as Talmi deems it, “the Berkshires shining culture gem.” This song returns to a slower pace, focusing on the acoustic guitar again with swells of violin and viola, as Talmi recalls the live music events, and his own graduation that took place at Tanglewood. 

The next song on the album, “Ned’s Basement (Don’t Stop Trying Now),” is where Ben recalls memories of his friends, including a friend who died in a motorcycle accident. He also contemplates the passing of time through lyrics such as, “I don’t want to fight/ A fight with Father time/ I just want a little peace of mind.” “Ned’s Basement” continues with a slower beat, evoking a more mellow feeling in comparison to the earlier half of the album.   

The final song on Berkshires, “Hotel On North (Cope With That),” describes the moment of seeing a friend who has gone down a different life path than him. It brings forth the rush of memories associated with that person, especially if things didn’t end on a high note when going separate ways. 

The seamless transitions between each song and Talmi’s storytelling create a great, cohesive album that any fan of indie pop would enjoy. Berkshires is out now, so make sure to go ahead and give it a listen here!

To stay up to date on Ben Talmi and his music, be sure to visit his website, Instagram, and/or Twitter.


Ben Talmi – Guitar, Bass, Piano, Engineering, Mixing

Dan Drohan – Drums

Ansel Cohen – Cello

Hannah Selin – Viola

Kate Goddard – Violin

Abby Swindler – Violin

enordhof Author
Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website,
enordhof Author
Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website,

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