REVERB_REVIEWS: Ben Heffernan ‘Home‘ EP

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Photo by Lone Owl Photography

Do you remember the home where you grew up? Some of us might see it as the place we started and ended our days, where we came back to reflect on life’s experiences and took steps to forge our futures. The four walls that surrounded us as we grew chronicled our history and provided a sanctuary that helped shape and mould who we are. Local singer/songwriter, Ben Heffernan, invites you inside with his new EP, “Home” and welcomes you to hear his story.

Home, in its entirety, is very cohesive and lends a very coming-of-age feel. Stylistically, it picks up where his previous EP (2017’s Different Wars) leaves off, but showcases a tighter, more musically developed presence. Ben tackles the subjects of his songs, dealing with heartbreak and loss, with a humbling level of maturity and courage. The instrumentation is poignant, which works seamlessly with his voice that can be appropriately described as soaring.

The opening track, “Moving On”, is both upbeat and liberating. Accompanied by a cheery piano section, the song tells of a soul that refuses to be tamed. It takes a rather optimistic stance on being able to look forward and move on from a special bond, despite efforts made to preserve the connection.

The next track, “Slow Down”, shifts directions from overcoming a separation to the heartache of potentially losing a special bond. It’s that recognizable place we’ve all been, that plea to hang onto something or someone we hold dear during those uncertain times. In contrast to the lyrics, the musical arrangement lends a sense of hope and makes it seem that some things are worth the persistence.

The final track, “Before You Go”, is the epicenter of Ben Heffernan’s heart on this EP. While this track is generally acoustic, it compliments the overall atmosphere of the EP very well. The slide guitar works hand-in-hand with Ben’s lyrics to paint a poetic portrait of pain and sadness. It draws from that all too familiar feeling of wishing we could have said or did something differently to alter the course of events after losing a close bond and how that loss forever changes us. When the track came to an end, I was literally left breathless…

The word “home” itself lends a sense of familiarity. Home is what we know and feel on a day-to-day basis – it surrounds us. Ben Heffernan’s EP triggers all those feelings. I guess you could say, if home is where the heart is, he certainly found it with this gem.

Ben has let us inside of his soul with this powerful listen. It begs to ask what went into and inspired this EP. Ben was kind enough to shed some insight on how Home came to be.

Reverb: The EP title, “Home”, seems as though it could be opened to the listener’s interpretation, but I could be wrong. What does the “Home” mean to you?

Ben: I settled on Home as the title because it represents a theme that runs through the whole EP. The songs are about growing up and everything changing. I write about my own life. As I and all the friends I’ve grown up with enter into a new phase in our lives, my idea of home and the role that it plays in my life has been brought into question more than ever.

Reverb: I feel like you really let the listeners inside of your heart with this release. It’s very human and relatable. If you don’t mind, what were some things or events that inspired the direction of your EP?

Ben: I definitely try to be as personal as possible with my writing. Sometimes it worries me a bit when I write something I think is too personal or exposes too much. Once I get past the initial nervousness, I find that it makes for what I consider to be the best lyrics. Each song was inspired by a different event, but once I began recording them and listening to them as a set, I began to find common threads between the three songs.

The whole thing is essentially about change. I lost my granddad in January 2017 (which inspired the song Before You Go), which made me realize that life wasn’t always going to be the same as it had been up to that point. As I briefly touched on in the last answer, I’m at a point in my life where there’s a constant battle going on between the past and future. I’m finishing high school, a lot of my friends are moving away, and I have no idea what to do with my life. Regardless of how small it may be in the big picture of my life and how much time I have to figure it all out, it’s been on my mind a lot over the last year and really inspired a lot of my writing for this EP.

Reverb: You’ve been making a lot of promotional moves already. Will you be touring or sharing the stage with any friends or idols to promote your new EP?

Ben: I didn’t really play much outside of London to support my first EP, Different Wars, so I knew for this one I had to get out and play more shows in new cities. I’ve already played Windsor at the Phog Lounge and Toronto at the Burdock Music Hall to support this new EP, and have a big London show at the Rec Room coming up on June 1st. I have a few shows lined up after that that haven’t been announced yet, but I can say that I’m really excited to be playing some Ontario cities that I haven’t had the chance to play yet.

One big show that I can talk about is that I’m heading off to Winnipeg with another London singer-songwriter, John Muirhead (who’s also playing at the Rec Room show on June 1st!), for the Winnipeg Folk Festival, where we’ll both be part of the Young Performers Program. There’s some massive artists on the bill and some of my personal favourites, including Passenger, Bahamas, Donovan Woods and Julien Baker. I had the chance to share the stage with some pretty incredible artists supporting the first EP, and I’m hoping to get even more opportunities with this new release!

There you have it. Ben will be playing across Canada in support of his new offering. Things will be busy for him, but you can keep up by following him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

If you haven’t heard it for yourself, you can listen to Home on SoundCloud. His first EP, Different Wars, is also featured on his SoundCloud page so be sure to give that one a listen as well.