Artist: Ben Rector
Album: The Walking In Between
Five albums, three EPs, countless tours, and seven years into his career, Ben Rector is finally starting to find the attention he has long deserved. Starting with his self-titled debut, Rector began carving a niche in the singer/songwriter realm that has developed into one of the most dedicated following in contemporary pop music. His latest, The Walking In Between, follows two years of touring and recording with his most ambitious and cohesive release to date.
Though there is no specific definition for a singer/songwriter these days, many still connect the term to someone who sits alone in crowded bars and venues with a guitar or piano and recites tales of woe for anyone willing to listen. While Ben Rector has certainly delivered a tearjerker or two in his career, and there are definitely moments of sadness on the new album, his sound and outlook is actually quite positive. In recent years he married the girl he has long considered his best friend, and the knowledge he’s truly fallen in love with his soulmate radiates throughout The Walking In Between. To write it off as simple another album of love songs would be doing a disservice to the level of pop craftsmanship put into each track, but I will say that it would take a truly cold hearted soul to walk away from a listening experience not feeling like love is in the air.
“Ordinary Love” kicks things off with a sound that falls perfectly in line with the hand-clapping, foot-stomping, sing-a-long folk pop sound currently dominating alternative radio. It feels a bit more modern than the material Rector offered on Something Like This, but not so much that it feels like a departure in any sense. The Walking In Between is very much a continuation of the constant evolution that has taken place over the course of Rector’s career, and as such offers a sonic sampling of new ideas amidst a sea of familiar tactics. His original knack for simple, romantic songwriting is still clearly evident on tracks like “Making Money” and “Forever Like That,” but there’s also a handful of songs pushing Rector’s sound further into the alternative pop realm than ever before. Those songs, like “When I’m With You,” offer glimpses at what the future may hold while reassuring listeners Rector knows what they want to hear.
If there is one thing you leave The Walking In Between knowing it’s that Ben Rector is the future of the singer/songwriter genre. His music transcends generation gaps in music fans, bringing together people of all ages from all walks of life together in celebration of the simple joys offered by existence. He’s a bit of a hopeless romantic, but it’s in his unflinching belief that true love exists that his best material is born. You’re not sure you’ll ever find a love as great as the one Rector speaks of, but there is something about knowing someone can make another person that happy in spite of anything the world throws their way that you cannot help but appreciate. It’s the kind of album you put on when you when you need an escape from life, or when the rain falls on a quiet Saturday afternoon. It’ll keep you comforted when you feel alone or serve as the soundtrack at your wedding, maybe even both. Do yourself a favor and pick up The Walking In Between as soon as you are able.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Follow him on Twitter)