Album Review: Ben Rector - “Magic”

Nashville-based singer/songwriter continues to make compelling music on his piano-based new record.

Working out of Nashville, Ben Rector has steadily built a career many independent artists can only dream of. The success of his past album’s title track “Brand New” has allowed Ben Rector the freedom to go for the kind of album he grew up listening to, a synth and piano inspired collection of songs called “Magic.” And magic the record is.

The simplicity of piano and and strings set opener “Extraordinary Magic” and pace us for what we can expect to hear through the entire album. “I Will Always Be Yours,” a song which blurs the line between one's faith in love and one's faith in above, this song could do for Ben Rector what “God Gave Me You” did for Dave Barnes (before Blake Shelton took it to the stratosphere). That is, it could give Ben Rector another audience to experience his music. Something which every artist wants, even if they say they don't.

“Drive” is a slice of sepia-toned nostalgia about young love while “Old Friends” is just as wistful about the kind of bonds that you carry with you with the friends you gained in your youth. These are honest songs about life and certainly the kind of songs that strike a chord with those willing to listen. The same can be said about “Sometimes.” It’s a song (written with Grammy winner Dan Wilson) which finds Ben reminiscing about an old relationship. He doesn’t want to go back to the relationship but he certainly thinks of the impact that it had on him through the years. “Boxes” is a song that takes a look at the decade Ben’s been making music and how he’s really realized his dreams, even if they’re not exactly what he dreamed of originally. These are all songs which are personal to Ben but like any good songwriter with the songs he writes, they take on new meanings to us — the listeners —  too.

Everything about Magic, is — well — magic. Ben Rector writes and sings songs that dance in your ears while the lyrics go straight for the heart. He may never be a superstar but as long as records like Magic are being made, he’ll always have “Peace” and a place on the road where he can add more “boxes” to remind him of the power to dream.