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Ben de la Cour “The High Cost of Living Strange”
February 9, 2018 @ 8:00 pm - May 3, 2018 @ 8:00 pm MST
Ben de la Cour makes his long-awaited return with the release of his fourth album, The High Cost of Living Strange. Set for release April 6, 2018, the record is comprised of eight new tracks of de la Cour’s self-proclaimed “Americanoir”; weaving complex, mysterious stories—sometimes beautiful, sometimes shocking—with a unique blend of instrumental backing and the occasional glimpse of gallows humor. Along with the album announcement, today also marks the release of the first single, “Guy Clark’s Fiddle,” premiering exclusively via American Songwriter. Ben de la Cour is currently touring the South East and East Coast (dates below).
Born in London and raised in Brooklyn, where he was playing New York City dives with his brother a full decade before he could legally drink, Ben de la Cour grew up listening to his parent’s diverse record collection – full of everything from Bob Dylan and The Everly Brothers to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jimi Hendrix.
Following a short stint in Los Angeles where he released Under A Wasted Moon in 2010, which BBC Radio called “brilliant”, de la Cour passed through New Orleans, fell in love, and decided to stay. He would spend the next half-decade there, playing and writing songs inspired by its emotional weight. In 2011, he released Ghost Light, which spotlighted his talent as a songwriter and received rave reviews in No Depression and other publications, with one journalist dubbing him “a vitriolic Leonard Cohen.” However, after a chance meeting with a successful Nashville songwriter in a French Quarter dive bar, de la Cour felt compelled to keep on moving. Ben recalls, “he told me that I might have something, but if I was ever going to do anything with it I had to get the hell out of New Orleans. I guess I’ve always been pretty impressionable.”
Yet again de la Cour packed his things, this time headed to Nashville where he crashed on friends’ couches and worked as a doorman in East Nashville until finding his footing in the local songwriter scene. His third album Midnight in Havana came out in 2016 on Flour Sack Cape Records and was met with critical acclaim from outlets like Red Line Roots, Nashville Scene, No Depression and The Huffington Post. That same year he won the prestigious New Folk Competition at the 2016 Kerrville Folk Festival. For de la Cour, reality began to feel a little less immovable.
Like his lyrical attention to detail, de la Cour has a veracious studio ideology. When he started recording at Greenland Studios in East Nashville with Joseph Lekkas, the intent was to record mostly live – minimal overdubs, no headphones, one room, and just a couple of days. “I’m like a bargain basement Cowboy Jack Clement!” jokes Ben. Joining him in the studio was Jimmy Sullivan (bass, vocals), Erin Nelson (drums, but no cymbals), Billy Contreras (fiddle), Jeff Lisenby (accordion). Becky Warren and his wife Collins de la Cour both contribute backup vocals.
One thing Ben de la Cour did want The High Cost of Living Strange to do was to sound human. Some of his most introspective lyrics are found in songs like “Face Down Penny” and “Company Town”, which he wrote while on the road. “When you’re touring you do a lot of driving and you really get to see the way that corporations exert influence over every facet of American life… that’s the world we’re living in now. We have this illusion of control and freedom but in reality for the most part we’re all living in a company town.” Listeners hoping for some of de la Cour’s more terrifying tales need look no further than “Tupelo”, a claustrophobic and hypnotic homicidal minor-key stomp inspired by a chance late night meeting. “There’s an older lady in East Nashville who always needs a ride, and I’ve picked her up a few times. One time I got to thinking; there are only two types of people in the world – people that pick up a hitchhiker and think of all the ways they could kill or be killed by that person… and liars.” “Dixie Crystals” is a scorched earth tale of methamphetamine addiction set against an unforgiving southern hellscape, while “Uncle Boudreaux Went to Texas” and “Guy Clark’s Fiddle” are beautiful narratives about broken-hearted dreamers waking up in a world they never felt like they belonged in, but are still doing their best to love anyway.
What each of the eight songs have in common is the sense of searching for beauty – the realness of things falling apart, feeling lost, the limits of reality. The High Cost of Living Strangemay seem bleak, but never self-consciously so, and there is enough humor and hope in even the bleakest moments to tell us what we all need to hear sometimes; it’s okay to be human. At least until a better alternative comes along.
February 9 – Little Rock, AR – White Water Tavern
February 10 – Mobile, AL – Satori Coffeehouse
February 13 – Nashville, TN – The Local
February 14 – Knoxville, TN – Barley’s Taproom
February 15 – Newport, KY – The Southgate House Revival
February 16 – Rochester, NY – Bop Shop Records
February 18 – Cambridge, MA – Atwood’s Tavern
February 19 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine
February 20 – Washington, DC – Hill Country DC
February 21 – New York, NY – Hill Country Live
February 22 – Buffalo, NY – Sportsmen’s Tavern
February 23 – Livonia, MI – Trinity House Theatre
February 24 – Pittsburgh, PA – House Show
April 26 – Berwyn, IL – Fitzgerald’s Sidebar
April 27 – Fort Atkinson, WI – Cafe Carpe
April 28 – Minneapolis, MN – Sweeney Todd’s
May 3 – Pensacola, FL – WUWF Radio Live
For more information, visit http://www.bendelacour.com/.