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Single Review: Ben E. Davis “Lonely Without You”

Built like a classic club track but sporting a vulnerable vocal and lyrics to match, there’s a lot of contrast to behold in the new single and music video “Lonely Without You” by Ben E. Davis, but it is this very contrast that makes it one of the more intriguing pop tracks I’ve heard in a long time. Davis’ singing, which is a beacon of optimism if I’ve heard one in the past two years, is reason enough to get lost in the melodic whim of this piece, but putting this side by side with the other electropop content hitting the charts right now leaves any listener feeling like they’ve found a real diamond in the rough.

The vocal is undeniably the centerpiece of the arrangement, but there’s no shortchanging the listener on the instrumental front of “Lonely Without You,” either. There’s a very frilly sound to the synthetic parts in the harmony, and it’s so seamlessly appointed that I can’t really imagine the hook in this track sounding the same without it. There’s a place for excess when you’re as good at pop music as Davis is, and I think other critics will be quick to agree with me this fall.

Emotional lyricism is impossible to evade in “Lonely Without You,” and I think that this affords the climax in the chorus a blushing melody that makes every word Davis is singing to us all the more disarming. He’s already got such a vivid charm to his performance that it doesn’t take much more than a simple nudge towards the theatrical to make his entire demeanor sound glitzy and yet warm and somewhat approachable. There are no ivory towers in this fantasy-like single; only feelings that start to feel like they exist only in fables after a little while in the real world.

If “Lonely Without You” is the real Ben E. Davis, he’s going to be making a huge impact on an otherwise stifling era for pop music in the next few years. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not hybridity is a good thing for electronic songcraft at the moment, but through the lens of an artist like Davis, I don’t see where anyone would think it isn’t. He makes one heck of a strong case for experimentation – at least when it turns out with the magnificent duality this amazingly personal and thoughtful performance is boasting from beginning to end.

Jackson Keane

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