Ben Trickey Blesses Us with a New Album

Ben Trickey doesn’t wanna dance if he can’t dance slow, and that goes for his music too. The Atlanta-based songman’s material invariably finds him weary, lonesome, lost and/or depressed. Darkness abounds. Darkness is the situation for nearly all of his songs, and when it’s not, the sun, as a general rule, is blinding. Hey, it’s his forte, and he’s sticking to it. And he’s damned good at it, which makes all the difference.

Anyone familiar with Ben’s 2010 debut album Come On Hold On will appreciate “The Great Escape #3,” which is presumably connected in some way to the two previous “Great Escapes” on that first LP, and is one of the more unadorned performances on his latest full-length, We Are Not Lucky We Are Blessed. Available for preorders now from Ben’s website and Bandcamp pages and expected on CD/vinyl by late February, We Are Not Lucky was recorded during last year’s COVID-19 social stoppage, largely by the musicians separately through file exchange, so don’t expect a suddenly upbeat shift in direction from Trickey and Co. His cadre of backing musicians has grown considerably over the past ten years (for We Are Not Lucky, it’s up to nine), with multi-instrumentalist Will Raines a recurring presence. And the full instrumentation, far from overbearing, serves him well.

Swelling around the troubled intimacy of Trickey’s voice and tenderly plucked acoustic guitar, the lap and pedal steel guitars; the violin, viola and cello; and the spirit-lifting voice of go-to backing vocalist (and onetime Waller member) Tiffany Leigh Clark coalesce to bring forth a dreamlike and often chilling cinematic quality. Like Book of Love, Ben’s drawn in by the eyes of Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani, but he ain’t no highfalutin’ poofter; the six-minute “Mundane Supernova” finds him walkin’ down Clifton Road, staring at his feet in the wake of yet another collapsed relationship, and if that’s not a feeling we can all relate to (minus the specific Clifton Road part, unless you happen to be over there at the time), I don’t know what is. And when he promises to “Burn It All” in the cataclysmal song of that name, we believe him.

Dedicated to his late friend and EARL barstool companion Rick Dang, whose guitar Trickey plays on “Glendalough or Chantilly,” We Are Not Lucky We Are Blessed doesn’t depart significantly from Ben’s previous records, but the richness of the music as a whole really lifts it. Which is to say, it’s the first of his albums that doesn’t eventually get bogged down by its own despair.

Photo by David Parham.