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Ben Rector Works His “Magic” in Reflective Record

Ben Rector’s album, “Magic,” takes listeners on a close and intimate journey through the phases of life from the dreams of youth to the struggles of adulthood, reflecting on lessons learned along the way. The release focuses on the magic human beings possess and how relationships can shape the course of our lives.

“Magic,” Rector’s seventh studio album, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Americana/Folk Albums chart in 2018 and rose to No. 2 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart. Rector was slated to headline “The Old Friends Acoustic Tour” before it was postponed due to coronavirus and presented as a livestream.     Photo by Kris Hanson

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I decided to break one of my favorite albums out of the dungeon, “Magic” by Ben Rector, after I noticed myself humming along to the older songs playing softly in the background of the Perk.

Rector is a singer-songwriter who plays a mix of pop and folk and often relates it back to his own life and family. He released his first album in 2008 when he was 20 and his most recent single, “It Would Be You,” was released in 2020, when he was 33.

Even though “Magic” was released in 2018, the songs can often be heard playing as the background music of our lives, whether through the overhead speakers in grocery stores or quietly filling the silence of our very own campus coffee shop. 

Throughout the album, Rector emphasizes a clear theme of reflectiveness. 

Each track holds some sort of perspective on life. Many times, it holds the meaning of growing up and the aspects of life within that. And one way Rector emphasizes this point is through the musical contrast between songs and the way he establishes the chorus from the verses in his songs. 

While themes can be associated with different songs on the track, the order to the album has a huge effect on the listener. “Magic” songs are presented in a sequence that begins with reflections on childhood and continues through themes of growing up until Rector reaches his current love: his wife. 

“Extraordinary Magic” is a simple song, holding the sweet message that people have a unique and almost magical glow within them that only people from an outside perspective can see. The soft notes of the piano make the song feel relaxed. I think it’s included because almost everyone you meet in life will have a unique sparkle. 

Rector sings about how relationships affect a person when they grow up. The effect of friendship is greatly emphasized within these songs as he sings about their importance, illustrated in the songs, “Old Friends” and “Kids.”

Another idea he sings about is love. While the songs could be taken as a current love, they also refer back to the love people encounter and feel when growing up. “I Will Always Be Yours” and “Love Like This” reflect the stages of love throughout life.

Going along with this idea, the songs “Duo,” “Over and Over” and “Wherever You Are” show the importance of being there for your partner, no matter what. Each of these songs has the same theme, yet the musicality of each is totally different.“Duo” emphasizes the beat of an acoustic sounding drum different from the strumming of an electric guitar in “Over and Over” and the low keyboard chords in “Wherever You Are.”

On the other hand, Rector also sings about lost relationships. “Sometimes” is written about an old flame, while “Boxes” takes a different approach as it reflects on old friendships. 

Rector obviously thinks that travel is an important part of a fulfilling lifestyle in his songs “Drive” and “Green.”

“Drive” is a fast-paced and upbeat song that makes listeners eager to travel, with its quick drum beats and tempo changes from verses to choruses adding to the excitement. “Green” takes a mellower approach to describe various sights seen through traveling, with effective guitar picking and soft vocals. 

“Peace” made me think differently than the rest of the album. In this track, Rector sings about who he is coming to terms with in his life and finding peace in everything that has happened to him. In a way, I think he is reflecting on his life choices and how his decisions made an impact on who he has become. 

“Magic” takes the listener through the emotions of life, emphasizing topics like growing up, traveling, love and finding out who you are, which I think is a unique and interesting approach to an album.

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Madisyn House

Madisyn House

Madi House is a staff writer, photographer and editor for MBU Timeline. She is a born and raised St. Louis girl who is majoring in communications studies and minoring in worship studies. House owns her own photography business, MJ Photography, and writes for her own blog, keepgrowin.wordpress.com. Along with working on these platforms, she loves to spend time singing and playing her guitar and ukulele. She works as a social media intern for a non-profit and a writing coach in MBU’s Student Success Center.

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