But now the former Everything But The Girl man is on a roll, as he’s followed it up with Fever Dream, which has had critics heaping praise on it.
‘It was entered into with a lot more confidence. With Hendra I hadn’t been a singer-songwriter, or a lead singer, for many, many years.
‘When I listen to it now, I think it’s a very heartfelt record and I’m very fond of it, but I can hear myself learning to sing again.
‘The voice is a muscle like any other. After going out on tour, I realised I could more with it, I could sing with more power. The top of my range had a bit more energy to it and I thought I’d like to do songs that I couldn’t have sung on Hendra.’
And he was working again with original Suede guitarist and producer Bernard Butler, who has become his musical foil and band member.
Describing their relationship, Ben says: ‘I didn’t really think that I was going to go straight back in and make another album. But I felt the urge to do it at the beginning of last year. I felt we could go one better, at least add more dynamics and confidence to the project which had developed while touring Hendra.’
‘He’s constantly mixing records and producing artists and I’m always trying to make sure he can do two weeks here with me and two weeks there. It’s step-by -step, but we’ve been working in each other’s company for about two-three years now, so something must be going right.’
Thematically, Fever Dream picks up where Hendra left off.
‘The record was written in fairly close proximity to Hendra, so I’m at the same kind of point in my life - your youth is behind you, your old age is ahead of you and you’re on this kind of axis.
‘I found it quite an inspiration to be in this position, you come up with quite strong ideas.
‘When I was on tour I would run into people I hadn’t seen for years, old friends, or I’d get talking late at night with a promoter, and I started to hear people’s life stories and I realised a lot of people were in the same boat as me – people in relationships that fell apart unexpectedly, or their marriages were surviving, people who realised something about their parents that they never knew.
‘You get to this point in your life and you’re very much made up of your past experiences.
‘It’s about how you then step into the future, with what kind of resilience and energy. You make the best of your life from those moments.
‘I tried to write very honestly about the age I am and what it’s like.’
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Wednesday, June 8