“….astounding and instantly recognizable,” Port Press.
“…intensely personal,” Newsday.
“…expresses those troubling times we all go through,” junior Aaron Jachim.
Raving. Enthralling. Astonishing.
Ben Platt’s debut album Sing To Me Instead is all of these things and more wrapped together to form an artwork that should be remembered among the greats. It effortlessly expresses every emotion, carried along by each unique tune of the 12-track album and proves to be resoundingly perfect.
I have been in love with Ben Platt since I first discovered him from the Shorty award-winning Broadway show, Dear Evan Hansen. He had already proved himself as one of the most powerful male vocalists of his time through his stunning performances in “For Forever” and “Worst of Me,” and yet, he somehow managed to fit even more impactful punches of notes into his album.
Starting out his masterpiece with the song that contains lyrics the album was titled after, “Bad Habit” is a breath-taker from the get-go. “Someone to quiet the voices in my head, make ‘em sing to me instead, it’s you.” Calling him a wizard of words would not do this man justice, and these are just the lyrics. The vibrato he breaks into at the bridge in the song, carrying every note with great intimacy and tending to each vowel, compared to the soft beginning of the song, all add to the statement that Ben Platt is a musician like no other.
I cannot begin to explain the utter power that Platt’s voice contains, and if I even attempted to, I’m worried I would only insult it. Goosebumps and chills are not vivid enough verbs to explain the true emotional and physical effect his voice has when heard.
And that’s just it about Platt: the personability of each song goes beyond the surface-level definition of the word. He created each song and cared for them with great affection, and it’s noticeable. When he speaks of the creation process, Platt mentions how deeply personal each of the songs is to him, telling of his own personal victories and defeats surrounding love, and this emotion is something that simply cannot be faked.
Following the ballad performance in “Bad Habit,” a more tender song shows the diversity that Platt contains with each change of tune. While “Bad Habit” was a chorus of pleas and wishes for help from the one he loves despite knowledge of the unhealthiness this person proves to be, “Ease My Mind,” brings out the gentleness of Platt’s voice that we did not see in the first song.
Whether or not each of these songs is actually related, a storyline can easily be formed from one song to the next, and it just proves that Platt is not just a songwriter: he is a storyteller. This feat is especially noticeable in his music videos for the first four songs, all of which can be interwoven to tell a story of loss and heartbreak, love and hope. Personally, I think it is better to listen to the songs as if they are really a story, because to Platt, they happened in real life.
Platt takes the emotional level up a notch with every song, and quite frankly, each one that affected me personally would start to become redundant. But it’s true. “Temporary Love” is a declaration that no matter what may come, “I won’t give it up,” and it puts the word “heartbreak” in a whole new light, expressing love without even losing anything. “Grow As We Go” makes me want to believe everything he sings about not having to break up to find yourself, saying “You can change right next to me.”
Each is an emotional journey, and each took me deeper into Platt’s experiences. All I can say is I’m glad he chose to share them with us. But this isn’t just your typical love album; this is all the emotions that come with love, ugliness and all.
Platt does not simply do somber songs; he breaks into upbeat whirling tracks just as quickly. But I’m not sure what’s worse: knowing you are going to cry or being surprised by the sudden ending to the dancing that comes with the next song. “Share Your Address,” followed by the all too sudden break in this fantasy world of happiness by “In Case You Don’t Live Forever,” was all too jarring and heart-rending for me to ever prepare myself.
“In Case You Don’t Live Forever” is one of those universal love songs that will never stop being compelling. But what’s so wonderful about this song is that it’s not just for your soulmate; it’s for your mom, your best friend, or even yourself. It’s a love song for everyone, and maybe that’s why it hurt so much to hear. “In case you don’t live forever, let me tell you now, I love you more than you’ll ever wrap your head around.” That right there is enough to bring even the strongest soldiers to tears.
The contrast in power with tenderness is something I don’t think I’ll ever get over.
But how could I ever fully write the true perfection that is Sing To Me Instead? I can’t. I couldn’t. I can only hope that these words are enough to convince you that this album will forever change the way you view and experience music.
All I know is that I never want to go back to a time when I didn’t have this album.