Life can certainly pack a wallop sometimes. There are just too many forces - some tragic, some inevitable, some unnecessary - with the potential to send folks flying through the deepest trenches of their own emotions...tests, trials, tribulations, all that. Our friend Ben Lovett
would like all those coping through the hard times to know that they are not alone. It's a message that underlies his song "The Fear" like a defiant rallying cry. In the song's video, Lovett gathers a collage of humanity, beating his drum like a call to live. It's an impressive visual, with direction credits going to David Bruckner.
may be Lovett's debut album, but if it doesn't sound that way, there's a good reason. Helmsman Ben Lovett has been at this game for years, producing an impressive collection of albums and award-winning film scores for other artists. So we guess it was only a matter of time, and the wait was well worth it.
The self-released first single, "Eye of the Storm," showcases Lovett's uncanny knack for storytelling and production with its haunting vocals and acoustic guitar expertly melded with somber cello and violin into a lush watercolor of sound. The song's visual counterpart, directed by Chris Alender of Soapbox Films, is a stunning steampunk masterpiece that became a viral sensation, generating over 2 million plays in its first month. But Lovett quickly flipped the table on anyone expecting a slow burning ethereal album and knocked us sideways with "Heartattack," a wild, danceable, upbeat barn-burner of a love song packed with enough energy to peel paint and stomp through stage floors. The video for "Heartattack," a colorful panorama of stylized party action, shows us all 12 of Lovett's circus at their swaggering best.
The full album dropped March 15, just in time to coax us from heated anticipation to the pinnacle of frothing excitement for what became a triumphant performance run at SXSW. With Lovett as troubadour, the traveling band is composed of twelve members, referred to as "the circus." Sonically, immediate comparisons have been drawn to The Flaming Lips at their spacey best and Strawberry Fields-era Beatles. And while the allusions ring true, Highway Collection
intentionally defies settling for any single genre or formperhaps by virtue of the fact that according to Ben Lovett, "No one song was recorded all in one place, most of it was found along the road to somewhere else."
is just that, an amalgamation of loving sounds spanning the gamut from mournful Southern rock to dreamy 60's-era harmonies, all infused with tight storytelling, and a little help from some friends. The apex of this aural convergence is epitomized on a track getting heavy rotation with The Musebox crew: "The Fear," which starts slow and earnest, but churns toward a rising sing-along of one hundred children complimenting Lovett's defiant reminder in the form of the chorus, "we are not alone." Indeed, we are not.