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MP3 Ben Reynolds - Fractures Inside the Design

Drawing from diverse influences like The Beatles, Tonic, Blood Sweat & Tears, Counting Crows, Barenaked Ladies, and U2, Ben Reynolds has lovingly crafted a singular sentimental pop gem.

14 MP3 Songs in this album (54:10) !
Related styles: Pop: Pop/Rock, Rock: Adult Contemporary, Solo Male Artist

People who are interested in John Mayer Marc Broussard Tonic should consider this download.

It''s shaping up to be a big year for award-winning Canadian singer/songwriter Ben Reynolds. It''s been four years since he left his beloved Canada for Nashville and he has just released his first solo album "Fractures Inside the Design". It comprises his first full release since the dissolution of critically acclaimed indie-pop/rock trio Sweetsalt.

In February of 2009 I met up with Ben at his home in Nashville to talk about his plans for the new album. My first question: why the long wait? "I felt like I needed to take a break from performing in 2004 [after Sweetsalt dissolved], so I packed up and made the move to Nashville." says Reynolds, describing his journey from artist to writer/producer and back again.

"It took a long time for me to figure out who I was --both personally and musically-- after spending so much time in a band setting... I spent my first 2 years [in Tennessee] writing with everyone I could find to write with, in every genre I had even a vague interest in. Rock, pure pop, country, bluegrass, gospel, you name it, we wrote it... and that really taught me a lot about myself." This introspection results in a new sense of ease that is reflected in his most recent writing. He explains, "I don''t feel as much pressure to impress anymore. Don''t get me wrong! I want people to connect with my songs, but I''ve realized that I can''t please everyone. And even though I may not be the best singer or the prettiest guy out there, I do have something to offer. There''s a lot of freedom in that realization."

Ben has taken that new-found freedom and has poured it into fourteen new songs that just might take him from underdog obscurity into notoriety. "Fractures..." was recorded over the course of two years in five studios between Tennessee and Saskatchewan. As odd as that seems, Ben is quick to defend the long process; "I know it seems like this [album] might be some sort of Axl-inspired, over-produced, self-important masterwork. {laughs} It was never supposed to take this long! I would have finished eighteen months ago if my schedule had allowed it. It''s really simple. This record is a bunch of songs that I love. It just took me a long time to deliver them."

With that he explains that writing and production work have been keeping him busy -- so busy in fact that he was forced to put his own album on the back burner. "It''s a funny feeling to be in a studio itching to work on your own material, and producing someone else''s project instead. I think the record is better for it though. I''ve had the luxury of time to reflect, and I think the project is a much better representation of who I am than it would have been had I rushed it."

What''s next? "Ten years ago I would have said ''world domination''," he says with a wry smile, "but right now I''m looking at spending the next twelve or eighteen months on the road promoting the record and seeing how the songs resonate with people. We''ll just wait and see. These days you never know what''s going to strike a chord with the public; the market is so volatile that there''s no predicting whether a record will flop or fly. The most important thing to me is that I need to be proud of the music I''m making -- and I really am. I think it''s been worth the wait."

Featuring a mix of solo-written material and co-writes with some of Nashville''s top songwriters, "Fractures Inside the Design" is a very personal exploration of Reynolds'' life up until now. "In my heart I''m a pop writer", he says, "and that means I try to lay out each concept as directly as I can. Songs can be layered in meaning, but there should be something attractive on the surface to bring you back for successive listens. I love bands like Radiohead and Counting Crows, but sometimes it takes a lot of work on the listeners'' part to dig down to the emotional gold. I like to think I''ve done some of the mining myself, so the listener can go through and pick up some nuggets on the first listen."

There are "nuggets" aplenty. My personal highlights include "Monochrome", a Sam Mizell co-write with an infectious shuffle groove and one of the catchiest hooks in years, "You Don''t Know Me", a solo-write Ben describes as "an ode to co-dependency", and "Need to Know", which Ben wrote with rising star Regie Hamm (most recently noted for writing "Time of my Life" for the 2008 American Idol finale). Its easy to see why Ben has trouble picking favorites among the tracklist. He explains, "I always struggle to choose ''favorite songs''; it''s almost like saying you have a favorite child. Right now I''m blessed to have so many great songs to choose from -- I actually have too many songs that I''m excited about! That''s a great problem to have!"

I agree. In an age where albums are all too often populated by one or two gems and nine tracks of padding, it''s refreshing to hear the wealth of solidly crafted winners that "Fractures Inside the Design" offers us.

So now we wait to see whether "Fractures in the Design" takes it''s rightful place among the most important independent releases of 2009, or simply stays in well-loved rotation on the iPods of appreciative listeners like me. I get the feeling that whatever the outcome, Ben Reynolds will remain at ease.

- Evan Heath (2009)

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