BEN DE LA COUR
What happens when the unstoppable force of our dreams meets the immovable object of reality? Ben de la Cour knows.
Born in London and raised in Brooklyn, where he grew up listening to his parent’s diverse record collection (chock-full of everything from the Everly Brothers to Lynyrd Skynyrd), de la Cour was playing New York City dives with his younger brother Alex a full decade before he was even old enough to drink. However, while music was always his thing – school wasn’t. After getting kicked out of multiple high schools, de la Cour dropped out and decided to become boxer, ending up in Havana at nineteen training with members of the Cuban national team before realizing that there are only so many blows to the head you can take. So he packed up and headed to London with his brother to revive the metal group they had formed so many years earlier. They lived in a van and toured around the United Kingdom and France; but all the while, de la Cour was listening and taking notes from folk heroes like Townes Van Zandt, Warren Zevon Jackson Browne, and The Band. After an especially disastrous tour was cancelled after the bassists arm was broken in drunken fight, de la Cour traded in for a quieter, more introspective but no less intense brand of songwriting, returning to the States to perform to pursue the life of a wandering troubadour.
Following a short stint in Los Angeles where he released Under A Wasted Moon in 2010, which BBC Radio Bristol simply called “brilliant”, de la Cour passed through New Orleans on tour and fell in love. He would spend the next half-decade playing around the city, and in 2011 he released Ghost Light, which spotlighted his talent as a songwriter, receiving 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 Bud Tower at a New Orleans dive bar, de la Cour felt compelled to keep on moving. Tower said “you’ve got something, but if you’re gonna do anything with it, you gotta get outta New Orleans.’” Yet again, he packed his things and headed to Nashville, Tennessee. He crashed on friend’s couches and worked as a doorman in East Nashville until finding his footing in the local songwriter scene. His last album Midnight in Havana, came in 2016 on Flour Sack Cape Records and was met with critical acclaim from outlets like Red Line Roots, Nashville Scene, and No Depression. The same year, he won the prestigious New Folk Competition at the 2016 Kerrville Folk Festival.
The important thing to know about Ben de la Cour is that at the heart of his prized songwriting is realistic storytelling. He isn’t trying to fit the 3:30 mold or anything on a Billboard chart. He doesn’t want to sing about lofty fairytales or preach his own agenda.
“I like stories that are specific and I don’t like them to be preachy. If I think I’m being preached to or if there’s an agenda at play I’m out of there, and I think a lot of people feel the same – either consciously or subconsciously. When I say I think this album is about dissolution, about things falling apart… I mean it on the super local, individual level. Almost all the songs are about people who feel lost in the world. How do we cope with this feeling of being lost and unmoored? What happens to relationships when they fall apart? What happens when the unstoppable force of our dreams meets the immovable object of reality? Well, what usually happens is that it turns out that our dreams aren’t quite as unstoppable as we once thought. That’s the sweet spot.”