King of Air, the sophomore album by singer/songwriter & multi-instrumentalist, Ben Brown, officially launches on digital platforms (Spotify, Apple Music) June 2nd, 2023. Brown, whose previous work includes Austin-based indie rock bands, No Show Ponies and The Savage Poor, builds upon the buzz created by his solo debut, Sayonara Sorrow (2021), by once again partnering with Austin-based label and creative suite, Shire Recorders, and featuring Tim Cappello, “The Sexy Sax Man” of Tina Turner’s band and The Lost Boys fame.
Produced by drummer and Shire Recorders founder, Mick Flowers (The Rentals, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Elle King, Popsicko), King of Air is a dark, eclectic, rock & roll tour de force that Brown wrote and recorded after the passing of his brother and lifelong bandmate, Jeff Brown. While the album understandably explores dark themes, the writing, performances, and production are top notch, with each song featuring sing-along choruses, finely-crafted hooks, and the occasional saxophone shriek by Cappello. Additionally, while Brown’s personal reflections and hard-earned pathos are present, the songs resonate with the listener via universal themes, such as in the radio-ready rock anthem, “I Hate Problems.”
“As a writer,” Brown says, “I strive to make the personal universal. In other words, one trick of songwriting is to write about your own life and reflections, but to use narrative techniques and language that allows the listener to believe the song is about them and their experiences.” This technique is on full display in songs like “Not Here for Comment,” “Can I Come Over (When I Get Over You)?,” and “The Great Beyond.”
While the album explores dark thematic topics such as loss, increasing societal division, and the emptiness of consumerism, Brown identifies the album’s thematic core as contained in the song, “Don’t Be Afraid,” which Brown describes as, “As close to a prayer or spiritual invocation as I’ve ever come. As is the case with many artists, my brother and I often struggled with how to distill or articulate the purpose of our music. It was Jeff Brown who said he wanted his songs to encourage others “not to be afraid,” and to have the courage to make their own choices and follow their own paths.” I have used the refrain of “Don’t Be Afraid” as both a way to honor my brother and as a potential beacon to others who struggle to navigate the darkness and division of modern life.”
“Ultimately,” Brown says, “we designed this album to make for a compelling listen. Music should make you feel first, and then think–if you’re willing and able! I appreciate a style of pop songwriting that is aesthetically catchy and exciting, but that makes the listener feel connected to a collective human experience, rather than pop as pure escapism. Great artists have shown us that, while the path through the dark woods might appear scary, it's walkable, because they have walked it themselves and lived to tell the tale.”