“I’m going to put these hands together, gonna grow these seeds,” Ben Larsen sings on “Seeds,” the song that closes out his fruitful new release Turn. The first solo album from this seasoned local artist is a beautiful compilation of soulful songs, sewn together with soothing, mysterious strings and timeless lyrics that showcase the growing pains and rewards of change.
Though Larsen began playing gigs in Portland nearly a decade ago in the Brazilian band Na Mesa, music has been a guiding force in his life since he picked up the clarinet at 8 years old. Born in Connecticut, his mom filled his childhood home with the sounds of her voice singing to the piano. After a quick trip around the world—living in Indonesia through the bulk of high school—Larsen found himself here in Portland in 2006, to study music at Lewis & Clark College. And so, he became a part of our precious music scene. Since then, Larsen has been writing songs with romantic, profound lyrics accompanied by the mandolin or guitar. His presence came to prominence in The Giraffe Dodgers and Crow and the Canyon.
“All these songs were written over the course of the last couple years and were informed by the last five or so years before that,” Larsen tells. “A period of a lot of ups and downs and a ton of personal growth.”
As the saying goes, the struggle is real when it comes to letting go of love. “Time, she’ll rob you of everything,” Larsen sings on “Time.” Creativity, however, is something he’s been able to hold onto through the highs and lows of the last three years that influenced this album. Larsen artistically shapes the fear of change and grief into a beauty that we all, as listeners, can relate to and heal with. He sprinkles in hope and the value of connection throughout the album, which kindly offer us an important reminder: All that we need will come around in its own time. Larsen created a visual masterpiece to further showcase the importance of finding peace in acceptance—watch the music video for the album’s lead single “Turn” below.
With 11 songs engineered by Justin Phelps and co-produced with his bandmate Gavin Duffy, Larsen describes the process as a “cool journey of discovery.” A myriad of artists accompanied them at The Hallowed Halls as they recorded during the first half of 2018, including Tyler Thompson of Fruition on drums, Tony Furtado on banjo, Paul Brainard on pedal steel, and Laura T. Lewis and Leigh Jones (of Five Letter Word) on vocals. From dynamic sounds of building suspense in “Your Voice’s Sound” to uplifting, reflective pieces like “Wind That Sweeps Your Pine,” every song is a unique experience that keeps your ears ever curious for more.