Soulful Rnb Swagger Ben Kessler with Pop Charisma That’s Better Than ‘Good Enough’
Ben Kessler blends soulful tradition, R&B swagger, pop charisma and singer-songwriter spirit with lush instrumentation and alternative adventurousness. A gifted writer and producer, the Philadelphia-native possesses an instinct for infectious hooks and emotionally resonant arrangements. Kessler sings with an effortless, rough-hewn quality that complements his introspective, intimate lyrics. Drawing comparisons to Kevin Garrett, Tom Misch, SG Lewis, HONNE, Bon Iver and James Blake, Kessler’s music is simultaneously familiar and new. His ambitious productions float freely across traditional genre-boundaries, yielding a truly unique, modern listening experience.
As a kid, while Kessler’s peers spent their time as gamers, he studied the greats – Stevie Wonder, Hall & Oates, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Dylan – and honed his craft as a writer and producer.
“When I was 13, I borrowed my Uncle’s old audio mixer and grandparent’s bookshelf speakers and made a ‘studio’ in my basement. I spent all my days and nights fine-tuning recordings – I burned them to CDs and had my parents drive me to concerts so I could hand them out.”
One of these CDs found its way to legendary Philadelphia radio DJ, Helen Leicht. That week, 14-year-old Ben’s self-produced basement recording was put in rotation on the venerable, nationally-syndicated radio station, WXPN. A stint of shows followed; within two years of hearing his song on the radio for the first time, the young performer had amassed an impressive 200 shows across the US and Europe. Along the way, Kessler racked up a number of accolades: the top honor from the National YoungArts Foundation, recognition from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and a Finalist award from the International Songwriting Competition.
Kessler moved to Nashville to study English at Vanderbilt University, excited to live in an industry city for the first time. There he quickly established himself as an artist, songwriter and producer to watch in Nashville’s burgeoning non-country creative community. Multiple sold out shows and hundreds of writing sessions with Nashville’s best writers and producers later, “I felt like I’d gotten a bit too caught up in what I thought people wanted to hear rather than what felt authentic to me.” That’s when Kessler met one of his musical idols, Jack Garratt. “He told me to lean in to whatever the thing is that had always steered me in the right direction. That’s been my heart. So, I’m listening to that now.”
Kessler found himself yearning to create in the very room in suburban Philadelphia where he started making music. And there’s some magic in that room. Kessler’s debut single, “Good Enough” is the first of a new batch of songs that the multi-talented Kessler has written, recorded and produced there. Released through his own label, VYB, Kessler’s memorable lyrics explore themes of self-doubt, love, vulnerability and self acceptance. Kessler’s vocal cuts through an unexpectedly rich combination of smooth synthesizers and intricate classical guitar arrangements. The song marks an exciting evolution in Kessler’s work. “These songs,” in Kessler’s words, “just feel right.”
Kessler’s world is one of unexpected contrasts. He addresses relationships, self-doubt and and his struggle with anxiety with an air of optimism. He combines conversational and poetic lyrics through a unique blend of organic and electronic textures. His rough-hewn vocal tone challenges his tight melodies. He interprets the spirit of the classic artists he loved listening to as a kid with modern sensibilities of contemporary artists.
With singular focus and determination, the multi-talented Ben Kessler is quickly becoming one of the most exciting new artists to come out of Nashville.