Which guitar would you play your life story on? The weather-beaten one in the corner? The shiny new number? The electric guitar that’s ready to make some noise?
If you were Benjamin Scheuer, you’d choose them all. In his new, solo musical, The Lion, Scheuer sits surrounded by guitars, each evoking a turning point in a life defined by music. Strumming one, then another, Scheuer invites us into a sweet, sincere autobiographical tale about love, grief, and what it means to be a member of a family.
Scheuer learned guitar from his mathematician dad, who looms large here as a source of inspiration but also unresolved pain. From childhood thrills playing a homemade cookie-tin banjo to the angry years cranking out earsplitting electric solos at CBGB, the singer-songwriter gracefully relives his first tastes of romance and loss, a transatlantic coming of age, and a terrifying battle with disease. The titular lion features in the evening’s most memorable refrain, as an image for strength and family solidarity.
Mostly acoustic, mostly rhyming, The Lion‘s earnest ditties sometimes veer into cloying territory, and the heartfelt lyrics don’t offer many surprising turns of phrase. But Scheuer himself is so disarmingly thrilled to be performing that it’s hard to do anything but hum along.