Benjamin Tod’s newest effort, A Heart Of Gold Is Hard To Find, via Anti-Corp is set to release on November 22nd , though reports are coming in that pre-orders are already arriving. All the more reason to support artists via the pre-order process.
“A Heart of Gold Is Hard To Find”:
Life is cruel and death is kind
A heart of gold is hard to find
This album hit me much harder than I expected. It should probably come with a warning of some kind. There’s a likely chance that this album will haunt you more than a little bit after a listen. It’s lyrics and emotions will seep into your mind’s deepest, darkest crevices, seeking out your own similar thoughts for solidarity. Strangely, I’ve found that this phenomenon doesn’t necessarily lessen with subsequent listens. In my case, the more I listened, the more haunted I felt, and the more I could relate.
We A’int Even Kin:
Love is defined by decisions
You may may burn bridges you a’int got time to mend
You’re to old to be in this condition
You’re to young for the Lord to take in
There seems to be a divide between Tod’s songcrafting in Lost Dog Street Band and what we find here on A Heart Of Gold Is Hard To Find. With LDSB, perhaps as a result of Ashley Mae’s contributions, despite some dark subject matter, there seems a glimmer of hope, a chance of redemption and forgiveness within the songs. Tod’s statements here seem much more in line with an emotional immurment. Not defeat necessarily, but rather an acceptance of irrefutable facts. Things are as they’ve always been, they’ll likely stay that way, regardless of intentions or desire for change, or hope. But there’s always hope, even if it’s all we can hold onto.
We may never be anything more
Than what we’ve endured through tragedy
I have come to terms writing these songs
and righting my wrongs with those I’ve hurt
In terms of movies, think of True Grit in comparison to Unforgiven. One has redeeming characters, and somehow always maintains hope of that ultimate redemption, while the other has not one redeeming character, nor an ounce of hope. Yet, both find a way to shine in their own way, and connect with an audience. Therein lies the damaged beauty of A Heart Of Gold To Find. Much like I Will Rise, this newest effort is a stark, selectively personal album. If one found I Will Rise, a minimalistic album, A Heart Of Gold Is Hard To Find is even more so. Just Tod and a guitar. Well, and a a stunning collection of songs, that are the true stars of the album.
“Sorry For the Things”:
I’m sorry for the things I said when I was drunk
I didn’t mean mean them then
I hope you lied when you whispered goodbye through teary eyes
Townes Van Zandt comparisons are not something I throw around lightly. Yet, here Tod captures the true raw essence of what made Van Zandt so spectacular a songwriter. An ability to reveal pain, flaws, restlessness, regret and imperfections seemingly casually. But much like Van Zandt, I would imagine these are things that weigh heavily upon his mind and conscience, and I speculate that he finds it a therapeutic process to cast these demons out however metaphorically via songwriting.
“Long Gone” :
I live way deep in a holler between the holy and the damned
The only thing that keeps the peace are the voices in my head
Lord I pray that someday I’ll find the time to win
If you’re already a fan of Lost Dog Street Band or Tod’s previous solo effort, I expect you’re going to be singing praises of A Heart of Gold Is Hard To Find. But, if you’ve never checked in on either, I think you’ll find this release a good starting point. Just be prepared; you’ll likely need to process what you’ve experienced during and after listening. The album shows a deepening maturity for Tod, both as a songwriter, but also as an arranger. Tod indicates the album was recorded in the Spring of 2019, with Dan Emery, with Tod using his ’56 Guild F-20 and self described, fading vocal chords. It’s also the first album Tod says he has recorded completely sober.
Every track is a gem in its own way. Having been familiar with Lost Dog Street Band, I expecred to like A Heart Of Gold Is Hard To Find. I just didn’t know that it would affect me as deeply as it has. If there is still justice in this tired and jaded world, Benjamin Tod’s new album should top every Americana album of the year list. It’s something very special. https://www.benjamintodmusic.com