First finding his voice and confidence as a singer/songwriter busking on L.A.’s iconic Santa Monica Pier, Ben Bostick’s bounced gleefully along stylistically, pinballing between progressive country, hard-edged rockabilly/blues and graceful balladry in the small handful of years since the release of his critically acclaimed self-titled 2017 debut.
During the pandemic lockdown year, he spun a beautiful creative 180 from his rollicking, L.A. residency inspired jam Hellfire, toning down on Among the Faceless Crowd for a vibe primarily driven by a sweet retro James Taylor/Gordon Lightfoot/Cat Stevensesque intimacy that reflected his young family’s move to Atlanta.
With the exception of the quirky and frolicsome, tropical/island tinged Jack Johnsonsesque opener “Different Woman,” his poignant and masterful new collection Grown Up Love extends that vibe brilliantly and soulfully as he shares, John and Yoko Double Fantasy style but blissfully gently graceful without the Yoko screeching, a compelling, hang on the edge of your seat chronicle of the emotional highs, lows, challenges and triumphs of a marriage that has stood the stress test of time.
Though the heartfelt, timeless beauty of his enduring romance shines brightly through, Bostick is not shy about expressing – on the album’s lead single, no less – “The Diagnosis” - that’s thrown their once normal existence into a whole new realm. Shortly after the singer and his wife welcomed their second daughter into the world, their older daughter was diagnosed with a rare and severe genetic disorder.
Unless your heart is made of steel/stone, Bostick’s lines “Gasping, beating, looking for signs and wonders/Listening for signal in the storm and thunder” will softly break it as you think on your own struggles and empathize with his defiant optimism despite present circumstances: “Hope will light the way/On the darkest of all days/God, we need an overdose…” The fact that he can sing, on the sparse acoustic song “Lucky Us,” that “We have our burdens, but they won’t break us/We are more than strong enough” is a statement of gratitude, faith and purpose rarely heard in secular music.
It’s testament to the power of love, between two people and also universal, that a guy who just a few years ago was rollicking through guttural jams like “No Show Blues” can find the magic in being so raw and vulnerable. When love is all grown up, this is what it looks like.