Ben Rice “The Getaway”
Strutting out of pure country grooves with a rollicking rock beat, Ben Rice’s “The Getaway” doesn’t waste any time in painting us a relaxing, albeit a strained, view of the American pastureland lying outside of his native Brooklyn, New York. You might not be expecting it, but just inside of the first few bars of “The Getaway,” we lose a sense of our physical surroundings and become completely hemmed up in the web Rice is spinning, one delicate chord at a time. “There goes my life,” he starts to sing in his brooding, heartfelt drawl, “Flowing like sand through the crippled hands.” We’re looking in the rearview mirror, but that’s required when you’re burning down a highway full of cars.
This road trip that Rice is taking us on is going to involve a lot of hashing stuff out, and the countryside seems like the perfect place to do it. We pass by the historical landmarks and quaint towns dotting our path in a blur, not unlike how we pass so many of life’s most important moments without realizing what we just experienced. Is this trip we’re on the getaway itself, or are we searching for our escape? Rice isn’t keen on deciding all at once, his lyrical dancing implying that this kind of pondering is par for the course he’s been playing for oh so long.
The drums remind us that the tempo of our journey isn’t changing, even if we’re getting stuck on something we see outside the passenger window. They add a splash of darkness to an otherwise sunny set of strings guiding Rice’s voice through the unknown places and faces awaiting us down the line. But nothing, and I mean nothing, can break our focus from Rice himself and his tender relationship with the instruments that are swirling around him. Either he’s living life as a musical instrument himself, or the instruments have taken to doing their own impressions of his emotional pleas; either way, they’re so perfectly melded that their collective force is nothing short of riveting.
Over half way into this song and I still can’t decide if Ben Rice is a country singer trapped in the body of a post-punk rocker, or an indie singer/songwriter hungry for some sort of patriotic melody that isn’t indebted to some politically charged agenda. “The Getaway” is so spellbinding that trying to label it seems a little fruitless as energy better spent appreciating the weight of what it is we’re actually listening to. Even though it’s my job to find where a song, and an artist, belong in terms of categorization, I’m left with little other recourse but to dub Ben Rice contemporary pop/rock in its most formidable, calculated state.
When “The Getaway” comes to an epic conclusion, leaving a lot of dust and dreamlike haze to settle in its wake, we’re left with a couple of feelings that don’t go away, the first being a renewed sense of self-awareness that is directly inspired by Rice’s conscious prose and analytical subject matter. The second is, frankly, anticipation. “The Getaway” is Rice’s first recording made on his own terms as a solo artist, and debuts this July in preparation of his as of yet untitled rookie EP. More than anything else, “The Getaway” got me excited to hear what Rice comes up with next, and as far as most are concerned, that alone makes it a very successful debut for any artist.