I’m not afraid to admit that I’m biased in Ben Rector’s favor: he’s from Oklahoma, was in my fraternity (though at Arkansas, not OU), performed at my fraternity’s Island Party a few years back, and I’ve seen him in concert at least three times now, not to mention the fact that I used one of his songs to propose to my wife.
So I like Ben Rector.
But I’m also not oblivious to aspects of his music that don’t appeal to me. Sometimes he overproduces his songs; instead of relying on his strong songwriting, he sometimes fills his songs with different bells and whistles that create a rift of sorts between the listener and the actual song. His best songs are simply produced, letting the spotlight shine on his earnest lyrics and brilliant melodies.
“Fear” is such a song. It captures moments when Rector has had doubts about his life as a touring musician. That kind of life may not seem relatable to many of us, but Rector’s chorus shrewdly deals with his fear in broad terms, giving details like the specific states where he was challenged, but then capping it off with resonant aphorisms like “Something in me would not turn around and run” and “I learned to dance with the fear that I’d been running from”. We’ve all been there, and it’s songs like this that provide a template for how to cope.