"How do we cope with this feeling of being lost and unmoored? What happens to relationships when they fall apart? What happens when the unstoppable force of our dreams meets the immovable object of reality?” Aside from asking a lot of questions, it's fair to say Ben de la Cour is a restless spirit with a colourful past.
Born in London but raised in Brooklyn, he cut his teeth playing dive bars in New York City, spent a year in Havana training with the Cuban national boxing team and played in a doom metal band (Dead Man’s Root) in England with his brother. Back in the USA he has hopped between Los Angeles, New Orleans and Nashville.
He stayed still long enough to record these eight elegiac and irredeemably pessimistic folk songs that he calls 'Americanoir'. Taken as a whole, they present a bleak vision of the future for America and, by extension, the world.
For example, Dixie Crystals is about methamphetamine addiction, Company Town reflects grimly on how "corporations exert influence over every facet of American life" and in Guy Clark's Fiddle, the point seems to be that some things get fixed, while other things (like hearts, fiddles or wheels) stay broken.
Alternatively, a lyric from the dark road song Tupelo states fatalistically that "some things you choose all by yourself, some things choose you".
The melodies are strong, the voice is smooth yet , although De la Cour insists he doesn't like being preachy, it's hard not to take these songs as warnings that the worst is still to come.