From the Lone Star State to the ever-bustling City of Angels, Ben Burgess has traveled everywhere in pursuit of his passion for music. Now, after more than a decade of settling down and calling Nashville home, the 37-year-old is finally showcasing his craft as a country storyteller with his debut album, Tears the size of Texasout now.
This tight collection of 10 songs is an impressive introductory effort. Organically bound together by a cohesive neo-traditional and country-rock sound, each track of the “dramatic and dangerous” project features raw twang, unfiltered candor and heartfelt lyrics on the sleeve that conjure up quaint Western images of a breakup. heartbreaking or act of revenge.
Intentionality was at the forefront of Burgess’ mind when he conceptualized his perilous album of “classic cowboy songs and two killer ballads.” Inspired by western movies and classic cowboy records like the iconic Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songshe wanted the album to sound like we were “riding” on a Western musical journey.
It’s hard to imagine a visionary like Burgess not getting his big break as an artist until he was 37. His journey has been a slow process filled with mountain peaks and valley moments, which includes a few tough years in Los Angeles where his Texas roots and country songwriting were muted.
“As soon as I got to Nashville, it was like ‘welcome home, son!’ It was a moment where I finally found my footing,” Burgess told Taste of Country. “I only lasted four and a half years in Los Angeles. It was rough and tough, but that’s where I cut my teeth. I have no regrets. I feel like everything happens for a reason. The process is part of the gain. It’s part of the story. That’s what I remember and what I’m proud of,” he recalls.
As soon as Burgess moved to Nashville in 2010, he put the pedal to metal and began to hone his craft as a lyricist, which eventually brought him to theaters with Ashley Gorley, Jesse Frasure, Randy Montana and others. acclaimed blacksmiths.
His credibility as a songwriter skyrocketed in 2019 when Morgan Wallen’s “Whiskey Glasses,” now seven times certified Platinum, topped the chart. Billboard Distribution table by country. In no time Burgess became a highly sought after songwriter on Music Row as Dierks Bentley, Tyler Rich, Pat Green, Ernest and global superstar DJ Diplo recorded his songs.
The following year, in 2020, his hard work paid off when award-winning producer and Big Loud Record co-founder Joey Moi offered him a record deal. Now it was time for him to shine as an artist and record his hit songs that other singers have passed on due to their deeply personal and perilous nature.
“I think in the beginning there were a few songs like ‘Kill a Man’ and ‘When We Die’ that were pitched but didn’t get cut because they were too unique to me and maybe too dangerous,” recalls Burgess. . “I threw ‘Kill a Man’ at Morgan and it was crickets. There’s stuff on it [my album] that people just wouldn’t touch because they were a little too cheeky and wild. But I’m the man for it. If anyone has to do it, it will be me. »
Burgess’ penchant for writing country songs unique to him is on display throughout Tears the size of Texasincluding on its real-life inspired title track.
A wistful, mid-tempo ballad, the song taps into a reservoir of heartache to detail the misery felt by two parties after their breakup. Here, Burgess, who co-wrote the track with Josh Kerr, assumes the identity of an outlaw who has been wrongfully convicted for his inability to stay grounded and committed in a relationship. The spotlight first focuses on the fate of his ex-girlfriend, before concluding with an elegiac account of how he too “cried tears the size of Texas”.
“I always think about the public and try to write songs that touch everyone from all parts of the world. I feel like doing this, we have to be honest. Honesty is vulnerability. The turnaround of “I’m crying tears the size of Texas” is vulnerable, where it’s like, “I have to be honest about this to learn from my mistakes,” Burgess notes.
The rising singer-songwriter prides himself on being an honest storyteller on his album, even if that means sharing an unvarnished account of a time when he was miffed and, according to the title of one song, completely “Sick and Tired”.
Co-written by Burgess, Jacob Davis and Kerr, the song begins unassumingly solemn with a gospel chorus-like delivery as the singer prays, “Lord, I pray they’ll come someday / When the stars fall from the sky / And every wish my baby makes / Come true a thousand times over.”
The tempo gradually picks up and Burgess’ exuberant attitude takes center stage as he furiously protests, “I’m sick of being sick and tired / Wonder when this fever’s gonna kick in Seems like we’re all slow to shoot / ‘Cause the bad guy keeps on walking away.” The song is far from a soft gospel track – it’s country-rocker that combines frustration and pent-up grit over a catchy Southern rock-influenced chorus.
“’Sick and Tired’ is about being at your wit’s end and having to talk about it. It’s about being honest about all the things I’m sick of and using country music [as well as] old songs and melodies to convey the emotion,” explains the songwriter. “I think everyone has a villain in their life. There will always be someone, and I think that’s why it’s relatable. He’s either the boss or a real bad guy. Who knows what it could be? Everyone has one.
Shared human experience is another key tenet of Burgess’ honestly chronicled LP. “When We Die” finds the Texas native tackling the concept of life and death head-on and Ben Burgess-style. He does not fight to intellectually dig up the notion of existence, nor does he lament the imminent arrival of his last day on earth. Instead, he chooses to gleefully embrace the fact and throw a jubilant bar party to celebrate.
“Cause I’m going to the bar right now / I’ll buy the boys one more ride / I’ll stay out all night if tomorrow I leave / ‘Cause I won’t wake up without you by my side / Tell me where are we going when we die”, Burgess sings with a low, high-flying voice over chest-thumping drum beats and virtuoso guitar lines that rip and go wild in the electrifying bridge.
The larger-than-life anthem was one that Burgess wrote at the dawn of a trifecta of unfortunate events: he had just gone through a breakup, lost a loved one, and was in the universal state of uncertainty in which the COVID pandemic had plunged everyone. Life seemed meaningless at times as Burgess reflected on the dark, gloomy season he found himself in.
“I was at my wit’s end and I was like, ‘I can’t take it anymore!’ he reveals “I felt like if I had COVID and I died or something happened and I went, I’m ready because I’m sick of this shit. Thank god , I did not do it.
Burgess then jokes with a smirk, “Let’s face it. If I’m surrounded in a church and the outlaws are there and they’ve got a noose hanging from a tree, I’m gonna pull a bottle of whiskey and light a cigarette and go party .
As the old saying goes, age is just a number, and Burgess’ career is proof of that. He’ll be the first to admit he didn’t catch lightning in a bottle, and also the first to proudly claim ownership of his tenacity-fueled roller coaster ride. That’s why he hopes, through his music and his story, to inspire dream chasers and budding artists not to give up on their ambitions, no matter how hard the road may be.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned in my 37 years, it’s ‘go after your dreams or they’ll chase you’. I feel like I always knew I’d have a chance. I stuck with that and somehow some dreams came true and now the biggest ones are coming true,” he shares.
“I hope Tears the size of Texas gives people some comfort knowing someone else is going through [what they’re going through]. I hope this will give them inspiration to continue. And I hope they get along in it and know it’s okay to mess things up. That doesn’t mean it’s over. It just means you get another day, another song, another sunrise, and another sunset.
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