Yesterday, he released a new record called Burgess, which is pretty short and sweet coming in at nine songs in total, two of which he previously released called “Silverado Blues” and “Gettin’ Up There.”
Unfortunately, “The Willie” and “Son Of A Fireman” didn’t make the cut, but you should go check those out here and here if you haven’t yet, because they’re two of my favorites from him.
Anywho, I’ll just tell you now before we get into some of the music — it is certainly a departure sonically from his impressive debut Tears the Size of Texas, which was one of my favorite albums released in 2022.
No longer with his label Big Loud (home of Morgan Wallen, Hardy, Ernest and more), it definitely feels like Ben took liberties with the music that normally would not fly with most producers and executives having the ultimate say-so on a project.
He pretty much says as much in “Gettin’ Up There”:
“Finally made it into Nashville Pulled up to the Red Door bar Celebratin’ some plastic cowboy’s #1 on the radio chart Regulator he told me he liked my style But the boss man was too scared I got too many tattoos and one too many gray hairs”
Judging by his announcement video on Instagram, none of that was a mistake by any stretch of the imagination:
“There’s no Nashville producer on it, there’s no fancy band. It’s all done by that man’s hands.”
The production choices are certainly unique and raw overall, and the thread of what pulls this project together is of course his creative songwriting. It’s pretty brutally honest, which I appreciate and love, and there are several really stripped-back, simple moments on the production that stand out too.
I would definitely say it’s ultimately a “songwriters record,” meaning that the lyrics and words are definitely the focal point, and is what he focused on above everything else.
And speaking of writing, if Ben’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s responsible for penning hits like Morgan Wallen’s “Whiskey Glasses,” Ernest’s duet with Morgan “Flower Shops,” and even Koe Wetzel’s “April Showers.” He’s also written for artists outside of the country genre like Lil Wayne and the Jonas Brothers.
Clearly an accomplished songwriter, he released his aforementioned debut artist record close to two years ago now, and it made our Top 40 Albums list last year.
The songs on Burgess are without the polish of a Nashville producer, and there’s something really intriguing about the fact that he wrote and produced the whole thing by himself, in addition to the fact that the content within the songs is very different and interesting.
All of that comes through very obviously in the music, in terms it not feeling overly shiny and allowing the lyrics and message to take center stage.
Ben says the project is a tribute to his late father, who passed away from cancer, and he recorded all of the music with his dad’s guitars at his home back in Texas a while back:
“I produced this project myself because I’ve been wanting to get back to the roots of who I am as an artist.
I’m rough around the edges and far from perfect, but I’ll always tell y’all the truth. I wrote and recorded most of this project at my dad’s house back in Texas using his guitars, as cancer was taking him away from us.
That’s why I titled the album ‘Burgess,’ as a tribute to my pops.”
I don’t think the entire album will be for everybody, but I do think there are a handful of songs that anyone could appreciate and get into (just don’t spend too much time trying to figure out the spelling on some of them).
The best way that I can put the sound and feel of Burgess into one word would be to say that it’s quirky, and unique if you want two words, just like he is, and will grow on you with time.
“Dive Bar Drunk” is definitely the standout to me, and has a cool melody and simple production where Ben professes that he wants this girl no matter if he’s “high school high,” “lifeguard sober” or “dive bar drunk,” though she doesn’t seem to feel quite the same way.
Go into it with an open mind, enjoy his eccentric, different perspective on country music and songwriting, and you can start by checking out some of my early favorites below.