Rector crafts emotional journey in album
Ben Rector, one of Nashvilleâs most audacious new artists, recently released Something Like This, an 11-track album that takes listeners on an unpredictable ride of love, heartache and spirituality.
The record starts with âLet the Good Times Roll,â a rousing opening song that bombards listeners with a strong and abrasive brass section. The impromptu saxophone lines almost make the song feel like an upbeat Dave Matthewsâ song.
The song maintains Nashville-esque originality, however, similar to that of The Civil Wars, with an enchanting back-up vocal section, giving the song breadth and complimenting Rectorâs easygoing melodic lines. Rector and the brass section, specifically the saxophone, have an engaging musical dialogue that reels in listeners and gives the song a gripping, ominous quality.
In contrast, âSong for the Suburbsâ is intriguing but instead reaches interest through the use of melancholy vocal lines that make listeners feel like Rector is guiding them on a musical trek.
Not only is Rectorâs stylistic prowess exemplified in the dichotomy of the first two songs, but his vocal virtuosity is as well. Throughout the album, Rector successfully reaches the upper register of his vocal range, with careful falsetto and artistic expression while avoiding the whiny teenage boy sound that plagues contemporary indie-pop records.
The tracks âNever Gonna Let You Goâ and âWithout Youâ seem to go hand in hand. The songs mesh thematically and musically with bluesy sounding melodies, gracing listeners with choruses that ebb like waves of palpable emotion.
âHide Awayâ similarly contains great musical taste and insight, but is a strategic roadblock, impeding the albumâs driving momentum. The track features a semi-gospel feel and a slow-moving choral chant, making the song stand out as a unique detour from Rectorâs intense, emotional ride.
While the introductory tracks captivate listeners with ardent tones and dynamic instrumentals, the middle of the album falters as it gives the impression that Rector is trying too hard, bogging down the albumâs vigor.
For instance, in âYou and Me,â Rector sings a recurring âha-haâ in falsetto that sounds more like a melodic rendition of Enya than his own personal style, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. Though Rectorâs artistic expression is usually effective, it is questionable on this track.
Likewise, on âShe Is,â Rector seems to emulate bands like The Fray and Maroon 5 â again not making the song his own. The song does, however, have catchy lyrics and an echoing chorus that redeems the song for some of its poor taste. The awkward stylistic homages are minor details in Rectorâs overall project.
Rector does, however, vindicate himself as the album finishes. Tracks like âWanna Be Lovedâ and âWay I Amâ exemplify Rectorâs expertise as a performer and album-maker. The songs link together fluidly, with cohesive transitions that will make listeners feel like theyâre listening to an extended work of art.
âFalling in Loveâ also speaks to Rectorâs creative touch, featuring vibrato whistling â odd at first, but sure to grow on listeners â interspersed with passionate vocals and his signature falsetto. The song is framed perfectly, setting up for the albumâs finale.
âHomeâ closes the album with an uncanny sense of gusto and fortissimo that could easily rival a gospel choir or a marching band â or both. Rector creates a surreal vibe by giving the finale of his album sonic breadth along with touching vocal harmonies and jazzy, sweeping, keyboard passageways.
At first listen, Rectorâs finale seems like a cacophony of oddly arranged instruments and harmonies, but the overall effect is unique and satisfying. By âHome’s” finish, listeners wonât feel like theyâve finished a song, but a musical work of art that spanned 11 tracks.
One of the biggest strengths of Something Like This is Rectorâs ability to construct a streamlined work of art. All the songs in the album fit effortlessly together, and when listeners play the album through â from start to finish â Rectorâs genius shines through.
The only qualms listeners will run into will be the repetitive drumbeats and the lack of overarching, thematic diversity. Many of the songs appear, at face value, to be about love, heartbreak and romance.
For some, this might get boring.
Something Like This, however, is an incredible indie drop; the albumâs flaws are minor. Rectorâs career is just beginning, and he already has an incredible amount of versatility as a vocal artist and an alarming range of songwriting creativity.