Authenticity is often the driving factor in good music. Especially good country music. And no one embraces authenticity more than Benjamin Tod.
The frontman of Lost Dog Street Band, which he started alongside his wife Ashley Mae, Tod is one of the most underrated artists in all of music. He built his avid fan base the grassroots way, by staying fiercely independent and providing an outlet and a fresh take on real life problems of addiction, failed relationships, lost hope, death, and most importantly, love, perseverance, sobriety, and redemption.
As authentic as it gets, if Tod’s written it, he’s lived. He dropped out of high school as a teenager and endured years of heavy drug use, hopping trains and drifting across the country with no real place to call home. Always finding solace in music, Tod spent these years busking on street corners and honing his craft as a songwriter.
He released his first album, Sick Pup in 2011 with his band Lost Dog Street Band, and he has grown a reputation for his outlaw spirit, brutal honesty, and deft lyricism as a storyteller of generational talent.
Since that debut in 2011, LDSB has released six more albums, including Glory this past January.
One album was not enough this year, though. Tod, who has also released solo projects in 2017 and 2019, just dropped his third solo album this past weekend. Titled Songs I Swore I’d Never Sing, it may just be his best work yet. And that’s some heavy praise for a guy with a catalog as deep as his.
To provide some insight into this 10 track masterpiece, check out what Tod had to say about it in a recent post Lost Dog Street Band’s Instagram:
“It is done.
The album of tales of insanity, death, sorrow and addiction is yours now. ‘Songs I Swore I’d Never Sing’ was never supposed to exist except in my mind and on scraps of tattered paper. It ain’t for everyone and I can live with that. It won’t be nominated, awarded or appreciated by this world the way it should.
Their industry is too trite and shallow to even entertain real emotion. It is a relic of something that is lost on the masses. I too am becoming obsolete in this world from every mirroring axis.
Thank you for building the most loyal and dangerous cult following the roots industry has ever seen. It has allowed me to spit in the face of those in power while robbing their fortress blind.
I have not always been perfect in my delivery as a leader, and for that I apologize. I will always speak truth regardless of who tries to silence me. I have always been the underdog, but with y’all behind me all these years it’s been an honor.”
Check out the tracklist below, with a clip of my favorite lyric from each song on the album.
Fair warning, though… this music isn’t for the faint of heart. But if sad songs make you happy, you’ve come to the right spot.
“Not Coming Home”
“Follow me through empty streets
And bridges burned for hell to heed my fate
I never wanted you to see the evil I could never keep erased
Impatient like a diamond in the slate
Coming home late”
“Still Search for You”
“Fiery loyal tempered in grit
Built like a blade on an outlaws hip
Not made for today but together we fit
You’d think that by now I’d be over this shit”
“Big River Ballad”
“I’m at the mouth of a big, big river and I’m surely gonna die
But if I do or if I don’t we’ll meet on the other side
Guess I used to feel alive now I’m paralyzed
But I still feel it in my heartbeat, but it means nothing at all”
“You know me, I’ve always believed
In some sacred dream but now I see
That I am weak, oh, and incomplete
And all I need is a new beginning”
“The most important shot you’ll ever take is the one you never want
The reaper came a week too late for my only son”
“Dark Before the Dawn”
“I’m thinking tonight of my entire life as a whole
Oh, and what it might mean if I ever get back in control
Alone and forsaken by everyone I’ve ever known
Hell I even abandoned myself some years ago
And I’m hardly holding on
In the dark before the dawn”
“Tears Worth the Gold”
When all the bright lights dim and dark
I’ll only be judged by how I held your heart
“Terrified to Try”
“Stand up tall and learn to fight
In the face of all you writhe
No one here gets out alive
Wear your tears with open eyes
Let go of all you hide
Are you living life
Or too terrified to try?”
“When I’m gone please remember me
For my blue eyes and the songs I’d sing
Forget the bad, I did all that I could do
If I could take it back I would in fact and give it all to you”
“The Paper and the Ink”
“And some song I swore I’d never sing
From years before I held a dream
My pages worn like oaths I keep
I’ll die between the paper and the ink…”
Benjamin Tod is something special, and his latest work Songs I Swore I’d Never Sing comes in the wake of his announcement that he is retiring from touring after the remaining Lost Dog Street Band shows this year.
I highly recommend going to catch one of these shows, but at the very least listen to his music. It’s pretty hard to beat.
You can start with “September Doves,” one of the greatest country music songs of all time.