Reviewed by: Fareeha Naim
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Ben Rector has always had a way with piano-driven pop melodies, and his 6th studio album is no exception. Caution: warm, enlightening feelings inside are an inevitable partner to Brand New. Each song has its own message, offering us words that inspire, a lesson to learn from, or a reason to smile. Rector majorly writes about love and life, his themes interweaving throughout the album whether he’s describing someone as his “Favorite Song” or teaching us to live “Like The World Is Going to End.” Drawing from his own life experiences, his lyrics are easily understood and by the second listen you’ll be singing along.
Opening with the short and sweet piano ballad “Something Beautiful,” Rector asserts his wish to create “a thing that reminds us there’s good in the world.” Needless to say, he already has with his past five albums, and this sixth is just adding to that list of the beauty he weaves with his words. Following is the titular track “Brand New,” transitioning into a faster tempo with a steady beat about how it feels to be with someone. Get ready to feel like dancing during this upbeat track. “Note to Self” is an adorably fun to-do list filled with themes of loving yourself, loving others, and being grateful for what you’re given in life. “The Men Who Drive Me Places” pulls at the heart strings, as Rector’s voice backed by a piano celebrates the working lives of “Howard” and “Danny,” two of his drivers who deserve the recognition he has, and he asserts wistfully, “I’m half the man / of the men that drive me places.” Every song gives us insight into his life, how his thoughts work and his emotions. In the upbeat pop melody “Fear,” Rector documents his journey to becoming a successful musician, exploring how he “finally caught a dream” and “it’s a terrifying thing,” but strongly declares, “I learned to dance with the fear that I’ve been running from.” Track after track, Brand New is a testament to Rector’s skill when it comes to relatable lyrics backed by simple yet memorable melodies.
Rector consistently delivers beautifully written music you want to listen to. No, he’s not breaking down musical barriers or creating entirely innovative styles, but he is giving us what we want; music for anytime, anywhere, that we can feel good listening to and learn from. Play on, Ben Rector, and keep creating beauty for the world.