We've been pretty big fans of Lovett
ever since we filmed a concert with him at The Phoenix last year
. He's a talented artist whose ambition easily exceeds the norm, as seen in his series of video collaborations with film directors for his album, Highway Collection
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.