With the unofficial start of summer less than two weeks away, Ben Rector is ready to send his audience on an impromptu getaway via a sterling new single.
HuffPost got a first look at the lyric video for “Range Rover,” which hits streaming platforms Friday. Co-written with Mark Trussell and Devin Dawson, the rollicking track conjures images of the open road as Rector croons about finding love with a woman who’ll look past his beat-up Honda Civic with “blown speakers and a broke A/C.”
“My genuine hope is that it’s a fun, three-and-a-half-minute road trip,” Rector, who is based in Nashville, said of the song. “It’s definitely more tongue-in-cheek than most of my other music. The pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone, but it feels like people are becoming more optimistic with the world slowly reopening again.”
Catch the music video for “Range Rover” above.
Sonically, “Range Rover” is a bit of a departure for the Oklahoma-born singer-songwriter, whose folk-pop melodies and earnest, introspective lyrics have made him a millennial playlist staple. It also references one of his musical heroes, Steve Winwood, who ― in a surprise twist of fate ― is featured on the song, too.
Rector says the idea of name-checking Winwood, best known for 1980s anthems like “Valerie” and “Higher Love,” came from a T-shirt he was wearing in the studio. At the insistence of producer John Fields, he reached out to the two-time Grammy winner about making a guest appearance. Winwood responded to the request with a recording of himself playing the Hammond organ, which Rector and his team interpolated into the track.
“I grew up listening to Steve Winwood, and as I became a musician, my love for him grew more and more,” Rector explained. “It feels like a different level of fan-hood, because he’s such a legend. He’s so good at this, and he sent us more than we needed. It was like watching some unbelievable golfer hit a golf ball in person. You’re like, ‘Wow! You’re really that good!’ It was incredible.”
“Range Rover” is Rector’s first original composition since “The Thanksgiving Song,” released last November as part of “A Ben Rector Christmas.” Though COVID-19 forced him to cancel a year’s worth of concert dates, the unexpected downtime has had some advantages both at home and creatively. Last June, he and his wife, Hillary, welcomed twin sons, Roy and Robert. The couple also have a 4-year-old daughter, Jane.
This spring, he’s been working on the follow-up to his 2018 album, “Magic,” which he intends to release next year. Earlier this month, he collaborated with Dawes frontman (and Mandy Moore’s husband) Taylor Goldsmith in Los Angeles on a new track. And last month, he showcased his talents on television as a mentor on “American Idol,” duetting with contestants Wyatt Pike and Graham DeFranco.
Hitting the studio without the pressure of touring, he said, has resulted in what he describes as the “most joyful, celebratory” album he’s ever produced.
“I’m not a hype guy at all, but this is really the first record I feel very optimistic about,” Rector said. “It’s fun, it’s vibrant. There are crazy, riffing sax solos, there’ll be dancing. Approaching music without any sort of distraction or expectation, I rediscovered why I love it, and to me, the new record reflects that.”