You may have heard his name before or even a few of his songs through hit shows on ABC, ESPN and The CW, but despite his success with the college crowds and television execs, Ben Rector has never had a radio hit. Not one, and he’s been recording since 2006 with a number of well-received albums. The 26-year-old born in Oklahoma and now based in Tennessee may finally have his shot at a song that can be both critically and commercially successful with a song simply titled “Beautiful” and the results are just as the song title says.
The track is a release from Rector’s fifth full-length album, The Walking In Between. It’s the first recording on his own label, Aptly Named Recordings. It was released digitally two weeks ago and comes out in physical form on Tuesday, the 10th. It recently became his first release to break the top 20 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The music bug has always been around in his life, from playing piano as a child to eventually learning guitar and writing songs in high school. A self-titled EP of his in 2006 spread quickly and after a series of live gigs, he moved to Nashville in 2009 to try to make it as an artist. Into The Morning in 2010 gave him a taste of some digital love and landed him some opening slots with fellow singer-songwriters Dave Barnes and Five For Fighting, as well as on VH1’s Best Cruise Ever. 2011’s Something Like This saw similar results as well as a headlining tour, and he’s still playing dates as a part of The Rectour (gotta love the wordplay there) through at least November. He’s a busy guy to say the least.
If you already know Rector’s music, then you know that he’s a talented guy who blends folk, pop and rock masterfully into his works. I’m particularly a fan of his song “When A Heart Breaks”, which was introduced to me by a friend of mine, and what else can I say? It’s heartbreaking, and it makes for such an emotional experience that you have to apply it to your own life. It’s brilliant, and so is this latest single of his. It’s his signature soft rock sound mixed with a lyrical nostalgia about reliving the good old days of embracing love for the first time. He wants to go back to a time “when I was sixteen with an open heart/windows down in a beat-up car/when I was dumb and the world was young/And she was beautiful.” It’s smart, it’s relatable, and the guy has an undeniable and genuine charm about him and his compositions. I mean, what more could you ask for? He was bound to be big, and it’s a head-scratcher as to why he isn’t so far.
The good news is this could change very soon. “Beautiful” appears to be on its way to a potential charting at the AAA format with two keys adds this week according to the latest report: Cities 97 in Minneapolis and Lightning 100 in Nashville, which are both influential in their respective communities. That’s pretty good considering that he’s essentially a new act trying to break through, but a lack of major label support could prove to halt the song’s process no matter how good it is. That’s just the way it goes, even on this format with its share of independent acts. We’ll see if any record group wants to pick up the radio distribution for it; there’s a lot of potential in how far this one could go and it would be a shame to see it falter. Perhaps after being used as the musical backdrop to another advertisement or scene in a television drama, it’ll pick up some speed. Until then, it’s all about the waiting game.
For more on the latest round-up of Rector’s tour dates, check out his official website, and to see how “Beautiful” does on my own personal chart, don’t forget to come back on Sunday to see where it’s listed. The fall is just about to begin and I’m sure you’ll fall for Ben Rector as I did with his solid catalogue of music.