When inspiration hits, run with it and get the idea down before it fades away. And that’s what Ben Labat did with “So Much More,” a happy, soulful Americana track that makes you want to dance and sing along and, well, so much more.
Premiering here today on American Songwriter, the song’s infectious rhythm will put some pep in your step as you set out on your new journey with a clear mind and positive outlook. Labat’s well-worn, throaty vocals emote the years of ups and downs life has thrown him, anchored by a resolve to move forward.
“Every door is closed until it’s blown wide open. Everything’s impossible til it’s not,” Labat sings. “There’s always gonna be that first step you never took before. It’s only the first step, but it’s so much more.”
“So Much More” came together pretty quickly, with the chorus lyrics and melody happening at pretty much the same time. Labat tells American Songwriter. “I went back and forth a few times to clean up the verses lyrically, but it was pretty much written and arranged before we headed to the studio and started adding instrumentation.”
“I think I still have the whole thing recorded on my phone as a voice memo. It’s only two verses, two pre-choruses and two choruses, but there’s a little chant part that opens and closes the song. Sounds crazy, but I was trying to imitate what Panic! at the Disco would do in an Americana song.”
A pro musician on all levels, Labat’s committed work ethic and keen observational eye first attracted the attention of producer Greg Ladanyi in the mid 2000s, who produced Labat’s first band The Terms, and secured Labat a background vocal credit with Jackson Browne.
After a series of tragic events, which culminated with Ladanyi tragically passing away in 2009, Labat took time to reflect on his own career path. In 2010, he debuted Ben Labat & the Happy Devil. The new band has released four acclaimed albums, A Face for Radio, Soapbox Anthems, The Revival, and Homeward and built a solid live show that has attracted a core of dedicated followers. “So Much More” is the first of three new singles Labat plans to release in 2020.
“I’ve never really written to create a mood with any particular piece,” the Louisiana-bred singer/songwriter said. “Usually, I’m in a mood and the song develops out of that. I just follow the feeling and see where it takes me sonically and lyrically. I’m pretty good at empathizing with all sorts of folks and trying to imagine what they are going through, why they feel, what they are thinking, etc. In everything we’ve done and will do, there’s going to be a first step. Sometimes it’s really tough to change a way of thinking or leave something toxic or start a new adventure or go back to school.
Tracking for the session was a fairly quick and painless process.
“I gave Jerry Martin (guitar), David Guidry (bass) and Travis Lovell (drums) a rough mix of the song and we let it simmer for a few minutes. We tracked most of this at The Music Shed studio in New Orleans. David and Travis are a great rhythm section. They had sort of an idea of the other parts that Jerry and I had planned for this track (pedal steel, organ, bells), so they just did their best to, and I quote, “stay out the way, lock in and not spill coffee on anything.”
“After we tracked main parts of the song, Jerry informed me that he had just gotten a Rickenbacker 12-string (Tom Petty Signature Edition) and had some ideas. The first time he recorded with that guitar was on “So Much More.” Jerry will tell you he pretended he was in The Heartbreakers and did his best Mike Campbell imitation. Glad he did. I think his parts are great the way they tiptoe around the vocal melody.”