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Music Monday: ‘Songs for You’ by Ben Barnes

Songs for You by Ben Barnes EP cover
©2021 Ben Barnes

Ben Barnes proves his impeccable range through a poetically soulful EP, Songs for You. Barnes clearly isn’t just the actor capable of going from a Prince to a villain—he’s a lyrical sweetheart too with a voice so stunning, his next big gig needs to be in a Broadway musical. (And you know what, he’d be compelling in a romance like Moulin Rouge. Or even, in Les Misérables. Whatever it is, Barnes would be great at it.)

Songs for You by Ben Barnes is like a literal ship trapping five complex souls in a profound conversation about life’s intricacies while then leading them towards falling in love, finding themselves, and breaking grounds in a poetic slow dance. When Barnes released his first single “11:11,” it was game over then. I (think) this is still my favorite track off the album—ask me again after I’ve listened to the entire EP about 25 more times, maybe it’ll change then.

But Barnes’ lyrics demand to be picked at. If you know anything about me, it’s that when it comes to music, I don’t want to know a single thing about who or what the song is about, but with Songs for You, I want to know the ins and outs of why Barnes picked the words he did. The detail about “11:11” that rings most true is the encompassing feeling everyone’s probably felt at least once or twice in their lives—Barnes knows how to touch on deep, captivating longing, and it’s something he brings to each of his performances too.

The next track on Songs for You, “Rise Up,” makes Barnes’ voice rise (pun intended) to unthinkable heights. While his covers are great—this EP proves his range that much more beautifully.

Let The Sea Catch Fire

See The Red Rocks Crack

Let The Dark Expire

No Shade At My Back

Share Your Light, Teach Me To See

Caress My Soul With Your Rays

“Rise Up” by Ben Barnes

And these lyrics are just so very lovely, in short, they make my little heart happy.

But there’s another song that really shows range—the one I still don’t know how to cope with. When I first heard “Pirate Song,” I thought Spotify had somehow skipped to another album. Sure, it sounds like Barnes, but wait… is he really singing about pirates? Is he really singing about Sturmhond? (Only joking about this part, or am I?)

But really, I couldn’t believe my ears until I double checked the lyrics. As someone who’s been fascinated by pirates since she was a little girl, this is just the kind of track that makes me want to pick Barnes’ brain because pirates can be poetically synonymous with so much more than just thievery. There’s always a mystery there, something more, something deeper—something that’s foreboding even, and though Barnes’ melody is like a jazzy slow dance aboard the deck, it’s still so fascinating to notice.

“End of the Day” isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, but still, a delightful wonder regardless. But finally, “Ordinary Day” closes the album so beautifully, if there’s a song that actually has competition with “11:11” for the number one spot in my heart, this is it.

“Ordinary Day” is poetry. It’s masterful storytelling and the portrait it paints of two people in a dance bidding goodbye—a type of melancholy sadness that’s desperately making me want to see a duet between Ben Barnes and Adele.

Because lyrically, “Ordinary Day” is the best kind of storytelling. One I hope there will be a music video for because I’d love to see what’s behind it all—what’s done with the words.

Keep those wings far from the flame

He can’t help but climb

“Ordinary Day” by Ben Barnes

Tell me I’m enough in your way. Oof, that line—that’s the one. The one you want to pick apart for hours on end because it’s so beautifully raw, simple, and yet packed with such colossal feeling, it makes you want to understand it more, because you feel it too. It’s an emotion we all know too well, one we might never fully understand, but it encompasses the kind of longing and emotion we’re all so desperate for as humans. A place to belong. We all pray to find our ways and sometimes, the pain is part that journey. Missing someone is a part of us. It’s a part of our story.

Songs For You is just the kind of poetic EP I expected from an artist who’s so deeply passionate about all of the roles he takes on. And if Barnes ever decides to put out a full-length album, I wouldn’t object. The world needs more transparent storytelling like this, and the world certainly needs more of his powerfully captivating voice.

Listen to Songs for You by Ben Barnes below and tell us which tracks are your favorite.

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