Ben Danaher left Austin for Nashville in 2011 with tragedy licking at his heels. His brother Kelly had been murdered a year earlier in their hometown of Huffman in a controversial, high-profile stand-your-ground case. He then lost his father to cancer.
“There was a period of time that was just a dumpster fire, where it was almost impossible to even function in any part of my life,” admits the 34-year-old songwriter on trying to pick up the pieces in Tennessee. “It’s hard to walk into a writers’ room in Nashville and be like, ‘I’ve got an idea for
a song. It’s about my brother dying.’ You just end up making things awkward.”
A summer living with his grandmother in Vermont helped provide perspective, and Danaher returned to Nashville with a more sober sense of purpose. The result is next month’s debut LP Still Feel Lucky, which burns with a hard-learned insight of life and loss atop his graveled vocals. “My Father’s Blood,” “Time Never Moves Slower,” and the title track reach beyond grief to find solace and hope.
“I feel like I have a voice now,” Danaher says. “When I was living in Texas, I was hoping to just get lucky with some kind of break or even just find something to say. But with everything that happened with my brother and my dad, as gruesome as it was, getting out on the other side of that, there’s an undeniable message now.
“Songs will dictate where they want to go most of the time, and I think that’s part of the therapy in songwriting: You don’t know where it’s going to take you.”
Thu., Aug. 2