Ben Trickey – “Rising Waters”

“The whole underlying feel of the album is a dark and melancholy one, but earnest and without being depressing.” -SW

Sarah Weitman

out of 10

Ben Trickey
Rising Waters
October 21, 2013
Anthem Breath Records

My first thought about Ben Trickey was that he was a toned down Christopher Paul Stelling. Or maybe a mix between some of Stelling’s guitar and Alan Jackson’s voice. I figured this was a bit of a long shot or even a cop out, until I was searching old shows and found that they (Stelling and Trickey) had played together at WonderRoot in Atlanta in early 2012. Trickey has been in Atlanta for longer than I imagined, and making music even longer. He began writing songs in 2001, releasing that same year, his first two of six EPs, four full albums and one split album with Brandon Schmitt, most of which he has DIY’d or used small record labels. Playing live, he’s shared the stage with Damien Jurado, Richard Buckner, Horse Feathers, and Jason Isbell among others. The Blue Indian’s Cameron Barham wrote of Trickey that he “was most intrigued by the seemingly effortless vibrato in [Trickey’s] voice which was a perfect complement for the content of his songs” and that while comparisons of Trickey to Connor Oberst may have been made, “it doesn’t appear to be an attempt at imitation or a vocalic gimmick to try to stand out. It truly fits.” I’m inclined to agree.

Rising Waters is the first time that Trickey is releasing an album with a full band and I think that he benefits from the added support of backing vocals, violins, piano, accordion, and percussion. It helps to carry the tone of his voice, both literal and metaphorical. The whole underlying feel of the album is a dark and melancholy one, but earnest and without being depressing. Though, there are songs that have a pick-me-ups built into the chorus. Trickey could not have picked a better tune to open with than “The End of it All.” Not only does it provide a short solo performance to introduce himself to new listeners, like me, but it also allows time to introduce his new band to old listeners. “The Darkness” has some of the best imagery, with lines like “burning napalm in my chest/my many failures and disappointments” and “screaming banshees in my ear/things I should’ve said/things you should hear.” “Open the Sky” has a hymn base and is a prayer, but I think is asking more than just to “feel good,” in both mind and soul. For me, it’s a perfect bad day song when nothing goes right. It’s also, my second favorite song after “Dance Slow.” I like this one best, probably because of the band. Trickey supports the verses well, but during the chorus the blending of the instruments and Trickey’s voice just carries you away. “Wolf Fight” that reminds me of Alan Jackson, in particular, it calls to mind “Midnight in Montgomery.” It’s not as creepy, but it has the same sense of something looming. The aptly titles “Crescendo” is exactly that, a song (and a relationship) that builds on itself until it reaches the end. “Pretty Thing” seems like it might be the one bright light of happiness on the album, but alas, it’s a song about “the one” who was “the last one to leave.” He closes out the album beautifully with “Alright,” the closest to a cheerful song as you’re like to get on this album. This is definitely going on my bad day playlist too. Sometimes all you need to hear is that while things may be going bad, “someday, you’re gonna’ be fine.”

Rising Waters was released on October 21st through Anthem Breath Records (created by Trickey). You can catch him November 21st for his album release show at The Earl in Atlanta with David Dondero, Ryan Sheffield and the Highhills, and Jeremy Ray & Joe Lazzari, featuring a vinyl version of the album on limited edition 180 gram coke bottle clear vinyl.

-Sarah Weitman, November 4, 2013