When American singer-songwriter Ben Bostick released his EP My Country
, I wrote that the future of country music in the United States would be safe if it were in hands like his. Upon the release of his eponymous debut long player, I have reason to believe that opinion is confirmed. That’s not just because Bostick is able to write and play to a high standard – it’s because of the breadth of style within his country music, and the fact that no matter what form of country music each of his songs takes, it feels authentic.
This suggests an artist who has a deep education: he’s listened to the albums, he’s studied how the songs are written, and he has found a way to exist within that lineage without it sounding like impersonation. This is noteworthy partly because of how voices work: a singing voice can suit certain styles of song and not others. Bostick has a distinctive voice, rich and gravelly, which is elastic enough to encompass different styles and stories.
The lyrical content of the album shifts from the serious (‘Paper Football’ and ‘Independence Day Eve’) to the outrageous and funny (‘The Juggler’), and all of it worth the attention of the listener. And while there may not be a theme at work – not everyone writes an album in an arc – the variety means this is a good first album: an introduction to Bostick’s range and skills. As time goes on Bostick may find that he develops a musical sound that is distinctly his (as his voice is already distinctive) but for the moment I’ll take the variety and enjoy it every single time.