Shoulda Known Better // or, Definitely Listen to Ben Chaverin’s Music

I’m pretty sure I stumbled across Ben’s music on an obscure Spotify playlist that one of my brothers had made. I was rowing at the gym. I don’t usually listen to anything that ventures too far into the land of pop music, but the upbeat rhythm, buoyant chord progressions, and unusually well-written lyrics made my workout about a million times better.

I took a look at my phone. It was “Careful Love” by Ben Chaverin.

Now, I grew up with Ben Chaverin, so coming to his music in such an accidental and genuine way was an absolute treat. We’re about five years apart in age, so he mostly played with my little brothers while his older brothers and I assaulted each other with wooden hockey sticks in our backyard duels. Guys, homeschoolers suck.

Ben recently released a new song, “Shoulda Known Better.” This song has a little bit more of a Jack Johnson, folksy soft-rock, acoustic vibe, and it surprised me at first listen. But now, I think it’s my favorite thing he’s done.

Even though it’s in a different style than some of his previous stuff, it’s still very recognisably “Ben”: flamboyant chord progressions and an impressive vocal range are paired with an optimistic melody and wistful lyrics. It’s a great combination.

This particular song’s chord progressions, stunning high notes, hip hop-inspired percussion, and confessional lyrics are a little reminiscent of an acoustic-pop Broadway song. Each time I listen to it, I pick up something different, whether it’s a clever line or intricate vocalization.

The ending always hits the same with this short song, though. While I wish it was longer, the song’s brevity reinforces the themes of nostalgia, regret, and gratitude.

I think that’s what makes Ben’s work special: he pulls you into his world just enough, but also keeps the listener comfortably at arm’s length. It isn’t a deep plunge in the darkest recesses of human imagination, but it isn’t top-of-the-barrel pop stuff, either. His work is fun. His voice is honest. His songs invite you along for the ride.

It’s this combination of elements that trademarks Ben’s work and makes his music so worth listening to again and again.

I think it’s impossible to fully appreciate his work without saying something about the light-hearted, fun presence he has on social media. He hosts Instagram Live music sessions, acknowledges and addresses big social issues (our social system, consumerism, mental illness, the environment, impending doom), and is generally ridiculous.

This matters a lot to me because, growing up, the real and made-up worlds his brothers and I inhabited combined the dark stuff (death, revenge, skinned knuckles, hyper-competitive games of mafia, my mom terrifying Ben whilst driving up Pikes Peak) with the light stuff (a lot of laughter, climbing trees, victory after staring down the face of utter defeat, the top of Pikes Peak). These were childhood journeys, and it makes me so happy to see Ben riding the waves of light and dark and slaying it with his music.

Yeah, so “Shoulda Known Better”: go check it out. Also, follow him on Instagram so you don’t miss what he does next. Support a new artist. Follow a self-starter. And by doing so, absolve me of all the times I was hyper-competitive in games of mafia.

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