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Episode 188: Ben Bostick
Air date: 8.9.2017
Ben Bostick’s gritty baritone is reminiscent of Eddie Vedder fronting a Bakersfield roadhouse house band, and his songs run the gamut from heartfelt, aching ballads to uptempo ruminations on rural bravado and youthful sexual escapades. But Bostick is no bumpkin or bro country pretty boy; he grew up in the Carolina boondocks and studied English at New York University - and it is that juxtaposition of backwoods guilelessness and urban polish that has refined his lyrical approach to songwriting. He knows that a great writer must both ably write and sing a song in the voice of a narrator that may or may not reflect their own perspective. Bostick is more than willing to work for his success - either by slogging away at the kinds of typical backbreaking menial jobs that struggling artists take to subsidize their dreams - or more recently by busking for tips hours a day, several days a week on the Santa Monica pier and playing paying gigs far and wide. He’s paid his dues playing varying styles of music as well - among them rock and funk - before settling on the current, progressive, songwriting-based country that suits him well. He knows when to dial up the genre-stretching, new millennium Nashville stylings of the holy trinity of modern country songwriting - Isbell, Simpson and Stapleton - but he also knows when to stick to the basics and tip a dusty hat to the masters of the genre - Cash, Jennings and Haggard. As a case in point, Bostick spends the first 37 minutes of his new, eponymously-titled album hitting all the right notes - stylistically and otherwise - before ending the final song, Erin is Blue, by dropping an unexpected, over-the-top fuzzed-out guitar chord that would make David Gilmour proud. It’s a perfectly left-field production choice, and it sets Bostick up nicely for some more courageous sonic exploration as his career blossoms.