Songwriters have been experiencing revelations on the road for as long as popular music has existed. A poignant exchange at a roadside gas station; a passing conversation overheard outside the venue. After a while, these comically insignificant moments become the only real way a touring musician encounters the world.
In “Lost in the Country,” Dave Benton (who records under the moniker Trace Mountains) tackles this subject head-on. Tearing down his road-weary fourth wall, Benton doesn’t write a road-inspired song so much as a song about what it’s like to write a song through the ludicrously narrow prism one’s world becomes as a touring musician. “I used the venue wifi/I checked my email twice,” the former LVL UP guitarist deadpans in his unfussy baritone, “As I sat and cried/The singer from the other band/Asked if I was alright.”
Benton wraps his pastoral pop in a 90s indie warmth that culminates in an ethereal, sax-assisted instrumental coda reminiscent of the War on Drugs. Just before that happens, Benton’s narrator sits outside a small club, in some small out-of-the-way town, thinking big nonsense thoughts about “the ways we think about ourselves in this moment.”
But as Trace Mountains explains in “Lost in the Country,” the contents of a road revelation are immaterial — what matters is the epiphany itself. “As I write this down,” Benton sings, “I could feel it all now.”
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