By Jordan Ottesen
Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Ben Reneer in person can attest to his gentle nature and caring demeanor; he’s an ever thoughtful individual and that bearing is strongly reflected in his music. Per the singer-songerwiter’s established standard, Ben’s latest album Facets of This Faded Memory approaches difficult subjects with a reverence that leaves listeners feeling a little more thoughtful and introspective about the world around them and the people they love. Lyrically cathartic, Facets uses major undertones, subdued guitar voicing, and seamless vocal harmonies to paint a warm soundscape that acts as a form of healing and hopeful resolve in the face of the harsh realities that life can present us all.
Opening track “Arizona” is a song that particularly captures this emotion as it works through the pain of losing a loved one to suicide, drawing on a comparison to the sunny state of Arizona to point out that sometimes we need time to mourn – time for rain. We can’t always lean on sunshine to make our problems go away, and taking time to be sad can “wash away the blood.” Ari Kokol’s guest harmonies on this track are an absolutely gorgeous blend with Ben’s, bringing all the elements together to inspire feelings of reverence in trying times.
Throughout this album is a feeling of gentleness, not only lyrically, but stylistically. There’s nothing particularly loud or dynamic in this record and there’s honestly little diversity in how each song sounds, but Ben’s not aiming for that. He wants the album to feel reflective. While he rarely deviates from his core blend of an electric/acoustic guitar-driven rhythm section, he finds strength in the continuity and draws from that steadiness to help cultivate that feeling of healing and human connection. What he’s created is something truly beautiful, and it’s hard to believe the record is largely self-produced, recorded all at home with a just bit polishing off from Kyson Kidd (whose harmonies, by the way, are simply sublime on the album’s closing track “Is It Too Late?”).
As Ben so elegantly puts it, “Facets of This Faded Memory revolves around a sense of wondering, a wondering that is at once pained and hopeful. A wondering that tries to see into the future but is constrained to the present. A reminder that we are all in the middle of the story.”
Make sure to like Ben Reneer on Facebook and follow him on Instagram (@Ben.Reneer). Listen to “Is It Too Late?” below!