Somewhere between New York and his adopted home of Atlanta, between noise experimentation and alt-country, between playing to brunch crowds and opening for Jason Isbell, it dawned on singer/songwriter Ben Trickey that if you’re stuck wondering if the glass is half full or half empty, you’re asking the wrong questions. Throughout his recording career, the “dive-bar philosopher” has built a reputation for crafting songs that wade into bleakness, despair and desolation, both universal and deeply personal. He painted a sparse, bleak landscape. But for his latest album, Choke & Croon, out July 8th, something shifted, and Trickey began to more openly and honestly explore the intersections of beauty and pain– the strange ways in which life becomes set of interlocking experiences. He wanted to filter the sadness that drove his poetic folk-country for the past 15 years through a new lens of hope. As he puts it, “I think that all my songs are written from the perspective of loving life and then trying to make sense of the tragedy of it. I think they’re all written from the viewpoint of looking up versus falling into it. Hopefully.”
Today, Elmore is premiering “Chin Up, Kid,” a track off Trickey’s upcoming release. His pained, emotive warble recalls the vocal style of Conor Oberst, as the song waltzes with a spontaneous, conversational energy, pausing suddenly in moments to inject trills of a violin or the vamp of a piano. There’s a melancholy humor to his confessions, unforgettable lines such as, “love you forever, I guess,” bolstered by ghostly female harmonies, which cut in unexpectedly to create an aching love-letter that is at once both blissful and blunt.
You can pre-order Choke & Croon here, and listen to “Chin Up, Kid” below.