I’m a sucker for great singer-songwriters. Anyone who can write a great song and communicate the emotion behind their words automatically has my attention.
One of those singer-songwriters, Ben Rector, has had my attention since I first heard his music in 2012. Everything he published was pure genius, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I can’t listen to the burnt CD that I made of “The Walking In Between” because there are too many scratches from so much playing. That’s how much I love his music.
So, this past Friday was almost like Christmas morning for me. His latest release, Brand New, dropped and I honestly haven’t stopped listening to it since. The first singles (Brand New, Paris, and The Men That Drive Me Places) hooked me quick, and pulled me even further into loving this album.
For any of you who have listened to his previous releases, you know that he puts emotion and heart into his music. That’s just who he is, an authentic musician who doesn’t pull any punches. But, there’s something different about this release. There’s a rawness, an abundance of vulnerability, and a beautiful openness that conveys his heart in every track.
When I first heard Note To Self, the lyrics, “This is the first note that you wrote for someone else, note to self,” I stopped walking. Like in the middle of a large amount of Liberty University, first-week-of-class, frantic foot traffic. In a song where he’s giving himself admonition and instruction on how to be more outwardly focused, his note to himself is not just for him; it’s really for others. It’s a challenge to be more about other people than I am about my own self.
Get this album. Don’t Spotify it. Don’t stream it. Buy it outright. Start listening to it. Don’t stop. Put it on repeat. Buy the CD and don’t take it out of your CD player in your car until it literally cannot play without skipping. Download the .mp3’s and use your iPhone EarPods to get the full effect of dynamics, delays, and reverbs.
If you don’t already sense it, I love this album and really want you to love it too. Support this dude. He’s my absolute favorite artist, and this record made that more concrete.
Power songs: Brand New, Note To Self, Crazy
Verdict: 5 stars. This is only the second album I’ve ever given a 5-star rating to. Don’t take this lightly.
0 Stars = don’t even bother; Nickelback status of terrible
1 Star = maybe just iTunes preview each song
2 Stars = listen to the power songs on Spotify, but don’t buy
3 Stars = buy the power songs
4 Stars = buy the album and listen to it on occasion
5 Stars = this is a rare rating, and not many albums receive this score: buy the album and listen to it all the time; I’ve only given one album this rating, and it was Noah Gundersen’s Ledges