Music’s emotional open book, Alec Benjamin, continues to give the world a look into his innermost thoughts with his debut album, These Two Windows, which arrived on Friday (May 29).
The album’s themes follow the vulnerability of a 20-something in the 21st century: the ups and downs of relationships, anxiety, reflections on youth and more. Benjamin is the first to admit that there’s nothing “new or novel” about these topics, but he tells Billboard that by talking “about it in a unique way, I hope people will be able to see things through my eyes, and maybe it will shine a new light on some of these topics.”
The rising pop singer-songwriter succeeds in making the matter distinctive by how much his lyrics read like a heart-to-heart conversation — almost as if you’re sitting with him in a living room at 3:00 a.m. after a night out, and he’s pouring his soul out to you.
“The thing that I enjoy most about making music is writing lyrics, so that’s the thing that comes most naturally to me,” Benjamin, who counts John Mayer as a hero, says of his songwriting process. “The melody and the instrumental parts and rhythm all sort of comes after it.”
“For lyrics, I try to sit down and I just write the first thing that comes to my head,” he continues. “Sometimes, if I’m struggling, I try to think about what’s been going on in my life and what are the things that are really bothering me right now and the things that are making me happy and things that make me sad. Then, I just write them down and normally I’m able to pinpoint a feeling or emotion that happened to me during the week and I write it down and start from there.”
A noteworthy case (and one that Benjamin is most excited for his fans to hear) is “A Match in the Rain,” a pulsing track with a synth rhythm that feels like a heartbeat, or more fittingly, rainfall. “The clouds are rolling in, I feel you drifting away / And though my intuition tells me that it’s too late / That in these conditions, trying to bring back the flame / Is like trying to light a match in the rain,” he sings on the chorus.
“My thought process is, well, I keep trying to make this relationship work and I can’t,” he explains of the tune. “What’s something that you would try to do but will be really hard to do? Oh, trying to light a match while it’s raining would be really difficult.”
The metaphor carries on the bridge, a list of other physically impossibles, like “flying a kite in a hurricane” and “riding a bike with no air chain.” The song is just one example of Benjamin’s unmatched ability to take a feeling we’ve all had but just can’t put our finger on, and turn it into words and an infectious melody.
How does it he do it seemingly so easily? “Whenever I make music, I try to be as honest as I possibly can about how I’m feeling, because I think we all go through the same stuff,” Benjamin explains. “If I’m being honest with myself and telling the truth and not afraid to share with people how I really feel, then there will be people out there who relate.”
These Two Windows is out now.