Ben DeHan creates a unique sound somewhere between Machine Gun Kelly and Angels & Airwaves, with an authenticity that can only be earned as a kid who saw the country through the window of a 15 passenger van and the urgency of a man who has seen the inside of a cubicle…His meticulously programmed beats, LoFi keyboards, and singalong choruses have drawn comparisons to artists like the 1975 and The Band Camino, while the use of acoustic guitars and a “wear your heart on your sleeve” vocal performance will feel right at home for fans of 90’s pop/rock and New Alt in the vane of COIN or THE WLDLFE.
Ben approaches songwriting with a familiar yet new and weathered curiosity with the same cautious optimism as a child who has burned their hand on the stove. The distorted guitars of his pop-punk influences have been traded for atmospheric string arrangements. The intentional space left in the production is filled with a vocal performance oozing with a pop sensibility. There is a warm sincerity in Ben’s voice, but he delivers his lyrics with an urgency that begs to be believed. His debut EP, New Nostalgia, is a set of songs that could easily be played with an acoustic guitar, but have been reconstructed and given a digital pulse.
As a member of the Baltimore-based pop-punk band American Diary, Ben cut his teeth playing the 2008 Warped Tour. Feeling despondent in a broken scene, line-up changes, and upside-down record deals, Ben took a hiatus from the music business before re-emerging as a solo artist. Equipped with a DIY work ethic and a decade more of life experiences, Ben came out the other side with a greater appreciation and love for the records he grew up with and the process it took to make them. What had started with an acoustic guitar and hundreds of voice memos became fleshed out arrangements with the help of girlfriend/collaborator/cellist Lauren White. Together they enlisted the help of producer Sam Pura (The Dangerous Summer, The Story So Far) to help find the sound that would bring their ideas to life. Littered with Catharsis, Joy, and Introspection, his songs connect on an emotional level. Something nostalgic but new, his music becomes a life soundtrack.
Waiting For You
Waiting For You is an acoustic/emo ballad written in a fiercely cathartic way. Possibly yet not entirely the end of the road; one has given up while the other persists with what energy they have left. Nothing has necessarily gone wrong yet something isn’t right. It’s about trying to get back to the place where you started together and knowing that if it ends, you’ll have to get back up alone.
The song begins with a sliding acoustic guitar riff, which sets the mood of the song and the first verse. The percussion doesn’t kick in at the first verse, which gives the feeling of a relaxed ballad to the listener. The mellow tone of the vocals underline a broken and helpless feeling, which is further emphasized by the lyrics:
“Find me on the way back
A needle in a haystack
Never know how to act”
The chorus is a heart-to-heart moment between the singer and the listener, which is highlighted by the sparse chords from the acoustic guitar. One of the aspects that makes “Waiting For You” unique is openness and sincerity. In the chorus, the longing for the past is ever-present.
“I’ve been waiting for you
I wanna come back to
The things that we do
‘Cause when you’re not with me
I don’t know who
I’ve become lately
Waiting for you”
The sliding acoustic riff and a minimalistic drum groove take us to the second verse where the longing continues. However, the second verse ends with a bang due to the more aggressive drums kicking into the groove. This groove takes the listener to the second chorus. The song takes a turn after the second chorus and hits the lowest point -emotionally- in the third verse. The vocals are tenser and louder, which accentuates this verse as an acceptance of what is to come and an understanding of what happened before.
“I know we gotta get out of here
I know we gotta be strong
And I will carry on
While I’m breaking down”
Overall, “Waiting For You” is a relatable and candid acoustic track. Definitely check out this track if you enjoy an emotional acoustic ballad.