Today, Ben Labat has released a new single, “Rocket Heart,” (Labatique Music; stream/purchase HERE), his third and final track from a three-song collection that started earlier this year.
The Louisiana-based songwriter has led an eventful existence, recorded with Greg Ladanyi, sang a duet with Jackson Browne, and the new series of singles reflects the influence of the journey.
In fact, Ben is a huge Jackson Browne fan, and often uses conversational questions about Browne’s music catalogue to gauge an individual’s musical prowess. In the second verse of “Rocket Heart,” there is a cheeky reference to Jackson Browne’s 1976 album The Pretender: “We got lost on the way back, Cutting through Chinatown with your sister’s twin mattress. You and your Rocket Heart, Say you ain’t never heard The Pretender?”
Of the winding path that led to his latest collection of compelling new Americana material, a series of three songs, Ben says that it’s been “an interesting road full of heartfelt greetings, cold goodbyes, successes, failures, falling and getting up. But I truly believe the ringing in the ears is worth a song in the heart.”
“Rocket Heart” is adding depth to Labat’s emotional and vivid body of work, which already encompasses five studio albums and a handful of singles. The song was written and produced by Ben Labat, and recorded at Music Shed Studios in New Orleans, and then mixed and mastered by Robby Smith.
“We all know those individuals that follow their hearts through it all,” he says. “No Plan B and ready and willing to go down in flames. Plain and simple, ‘Rocket Heart’ is a dedication to them. Those individuals who manage to stay children at heart, those that pursue the dream to the end, and those who are sometimes deemed reckless by a society that seems to continually place more value on material and quantity over soul and creativity. ‘Rocket Heart’ is a song for them. ‘Rocket Heart’ is a song for us.”
That assessment is confirmed by the clever lyrical insight and catchy melodic craftsmanship of the new songs:
“So Much More,” (June 26) about which American Songwriter says, “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,” “Die Trying,” (August 7), and “Rocket Heart,” out today.
Music has always proven to be the steadfast in Ben’s life, whether it be performing, recording, or writing new songs.
Similar to most of the songs Ben has written in 2020, “Rocket Heart” is a rich and soulful Americana tune that started out on the piano as a few chords. Labat clarifies, “I don’t always like to write alone, but when I have no other choice, I prefer to sit down and write in the evening at the piano. The trouble is I also have three school-age children that want to be a part of the creative process. And that sometimes makes it slightly immensely difficult to finish a few lines, much less an entire song. The beauty of that trouble is that they are relentless, creative, and find in joy in everything. Got to love the little rocket hearts that keep me inspired.”
What’s it like trying to juggle three kids and write new music? “To be completely honest, ‘Rocket Heart’ actually started out as two songs that I was having trouble finishing, ‘Going Down in Flames’ and ‘The Changing Kind.’ I am almost certain I inadvertently changed keys and merged them out of frustration one night with kids screaming and cutting up all around me,” he says. “Somehow it worked and I fell in love with the hybrid. If you listen to the original, ‘Voice Memo Demo,’ as I call it, you can hear my three kids laughing, singing, and banging pots in the background. That’s really ‘Rocket Heart’ in a nutshell, and I wouldn’t trade all the interruptions for anything in the world!”
The official music video for “Rocket Heart” is scheduled to premiere on YouTube on Monday, November 23, at 9am EST. It was shot last year at the spot where the song was recorded, Music Shed Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana, by Devin Williams. Pre-Save/Watch HERE.
During the beginning of 2020, while most of the music community was in lockdown, Labat help spearhead The Bayou Fever Sessions, a group dedicated to assisting those musicians making a large part of their living on the road, supplementing that income through donations to perform more frequently as studio musicians on recordings under “The Bayou Fever Sessions.” In addition, he performed live on WVUE-TV Fox 8 in New Orleans, as part of their Louisiana Rising Songs From Home sessions, and was interviewed by Nicholls State University radio station KNSU (91.5 FM) in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
After a series of tragic events – a car accident while on tour leading to the disbandment of his band, The Terms; the unexpected and tragic passing of his manager, producer, and mentor, Greg Ladayni; a move from Louisiana to New York that musically proved to be unfruitful – in 2010, Labat launched Ben Labat & the Happy Devil as his creative outlet. The new band released four acclaimed albums, A Face for Radio, Soapbox Anthems, The Revival, and Homeward, between 2010 and 2017. All four self-produced albums showcased Labat’s rapidly maturing songwriting and increasingly expansive musical vision, while the band earned a reputation as a first-rate live act whose upbeat, uplifting shows offered a potent mix of powerful originals and artfully rendered cover material.
Labat’s vibrant compositions are firmly rooted in the experience of a keen-eyed observer who’s seen the highs and lows that life has to offer, and who continues to absorb new insights while working and raising three children.
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Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy