Ben Bostick’s latest release Grown Up Love is the latest ten track release from one of the indie scene’s most respected songwriters. Ben’s 2016 debut EP My Country earned the South Carolina born, Georgia based musician accolades comparing him to \country giants such as George Jones and Merle Haggard. His first full length release, 2017’s self-titled effort, moved his songwriting into more modern territory while still retaining the qualities that first brought him notice. Grown Up Love’s predecessor, 2020’s Among the Faceless Crowd, illustrates the growing strengths of Bostick’s narrative style. He is a master of “voices” and his powers of characterization are among the best today.
“Different Woman” offers plenty of evidence for his ability to invoke character. Bostick, through a series of deft lyrical turns, gives listeners a multi-dimensional look at the object of his desire. It has some moments of high seriousness in its observations but Bostick wisely tempers his approach with intelligently worded moments of levity. The bass playing is a definite musical highlight. The use of vibraphone as well as alto and tenor saxophone help “Shades of Night” linger in listener’s memory. Bostick and his collaborators weave a delicate tapestry of melody and sound that pulls listeners into its web, but his vocals are the track’s crowning achievement. The hypnotic and dream-like quality of his voice invests every word with near-breathless sensitivity.
“Lucky Us” is one of the album’s more endearing songs but, taking the album’s backstory into account, listeners could interpret it as they see fit. Most listeners will, however, take it at face value – Bostick demonstrating an enviable sense of perspective that, despite whatever tumult tosses them about, his family has and can rely on each other. It may seem like a simple message, perhaps even too simple to some, but Bostick conveys it with great feeling. The nylon string guitar Bostick plays gives the track a distinctive sound.
You hear that unique sonic touch again during “The Diagnosis”. Backing vocalists The BlackBettys, Sherie and Sherita Murphy, are important contributors to four of the album’s ten songs and this is, perhaps, their best moment. Bringing French horn and vibraphone into the mix, as well, is another stylish touch that never feels gratuitous. It’s one of the longest songs on the album. The longest track, however, is “The Myth of Translation”. Newcomers to Bostick’s work will likely be left a little agog by his sharply observed wordplay and his ability as a singer to breathe even more life into the words. Kathleen Ray’s French horn and Jonathan Mills’ vibraphone are, again, crucial musical brushstrokes diversifying the song’s color.
The second half of Grown Up Love is more stripped back than the first. A few of the later tracks are recorded as duets with Bostick and Rob Burger handling much of the playing duties. The quasi title track, “A Grown-Up Kind of Love”, will be a favorite for many. Accordion makes its sole appearance on the album and softens the song’s character without ever unduly sweetening it. Another unexpected musical touch, Bostick’s Wurlitzer playing, complements the accordion well. This album has something for everyone fond of singer/songwriter material and never sounds coy. It is as unvarnished as they come and it’s likely Ben Bostick’s finest recorded work yet.
by Jennifer Munoz