My Country (EP)

Ben Bostick

Simply Fantastic Music, 2015

http://www.benbostick.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/02/2021

Everybody starts somewhere; Santa Monica Pier busker-cum-outlaw Western artist-cum-contemporary folk singer-songwriter Ben Bostick started here.

Fifteen years ago Bostick set off from his home in South Carolina and rambled from town to town across the country, eventually landing a decade later in LA. Busking country songs on the Santa Monica Pier might not sound like the greatest launchpad for an aspiring singer-songwriter, but it worked out for Bostick; he made enough in tips to record this EP, and has issued four increasingly sophisticated and powerful albums since. At just five songs, this debut EP is basically an hors d’ouevre for the rest of Bostick’s work, but it’s mighty tasty.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Bostick’s self-produced opening salvo kicks off with “My Country,” a rowdy mission statement-turned-anthem that doubles as an homage to his musical heroes, traditional / outlaw country icons like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. The tune itself is just what you want from this sort of thing: tight, punchy, stacked with sly references and brimming with genuine affection. Bostick’s point is that this is the real country music, as opposed to the formulaic commercial poseur dreck that dominates mainstream country radio today.

Next up, “Sweet Maria” is a melodic Latin-inflected barroom number featuring nice piano work from Robert Bowlus as Otoño Lujan’s accordion warms the atmosphere while also giving this a bit of a Mavericks feel. “Running On Fuel” follows with a sunburst of humor as Bostick parodies the sterotypical barroom weeper expertly, exploding every cliché of that type of song by exaggerating them to the Nth degree until you’re laughing instead of crying.

“Fade To Blue” changes things up again, as one should on a release this brief, offering a nice start-to-finish build from slow and atmospheric to big and booming and arena-sized; it’s impressive in construction and execution, all the more so given its deadly serious subject matter of addiction. Bostick closes with “Wait For Me,” a thoughtful acoustic ballad that’s as much a song of devotion as one of romance, about the kind of deep love that makes you want to be with someone no matter the hardships involved. In that sense it’s a preview of later work on albums like Among The Faceless Crowd and Grown Up Love.

The magic trick Bostick pulls off here is to give you range and wit and self-awareness and honesty enough for a full album in just five songs. This EP features funny songs and serious ones, loud ones and quiet ones, gentle ones and rascally ones, all thoughtfully crafted and performed with real intention. My Country might have amounted to little more than a stepping-stone in Ben Bostick’s catalog, but it was a damned good first step.

Rating: B+

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