Album Review: Ben Rector - “Brand New”

Nashville-based singer/songwriter continues to expand into mainstream conscious with latest album.

From the moment Ben Rector earned national attention a decade ago for winning a songwriting contest, he’s been heading towards the moment he’s achieved with Brand New, that of a nationally-known, folksy pop singer-songwriter who makes music that appeals across boundaries (including to country fans) and ages. Brand New is such an album and it’s easily the most-successful record of the singer’s career to date. While self-released, the album has been picked up by Capitol Music for promotion and nearly a year after release (it was released in late August 2015), Brand New is getting major buzz.

The buzz, as stated above, is appropriate as Ben Rector is one of America’s best songwriters and artists. The amount of lyric detail in “Paris” allows him to tell a jovial story while “Fear” has an Americana feel to it and lyrically finds a man learning to appreciate the crazy things in his life and to embrace that fear of unexpected that comes with his career. His own self-awareness in the strangeness that is celebrity finds Rector singing about “The Men That Drive Me Places” and how their lives are more interesting and inspiring than his own.

Fans of modern adult pop and mainstream pop radio probably are (or are becoming) familiar with the title track “Brand New.” The song is about the joy that comes over us when we are in love with someone, the way they make us feel. We can do anything. It’s a strong, relatable message and it’s easy to see why it’s connecting with masses in the USA and around the world. “Like The World Is Going To End” is a perfect radio-ready partner for “Brand New” and there’s a message in this one too: We should live life to the fullest because we definitely don’t know when our own world is going to end: “now that I think about it, I should always live like the world is going to end,” Ben Rector sings.

“Favorite Song” comes from the same clever well that Old Dominion’s “Song For Another Time” in how the lyrics are lines and phrases from well-known songs. “Crazy” is a song that plays up the normal joys of life over the “jetset” kind of songs which permeate radio playlists while “30,000 Feet” is a song that reflects on life. Reflection is a good overall theme for Brand New as Ben Rector approaches his 30th year on earth and it sets him up nicely to become one of our best singer-songwriters in the years to come as he’s already well on his way there.