Local songwriter Ben Dunham's eight new songs chart his own personal growth over the past year. But in order to record them in all their multiple shades and moods, he needed to enlist a diverse bunch of Vermont musicians to get the job done. The finished project, called Backline Collective, will premiere at an album-release party this Friday night in Montpelier.
Dunham visited VPR to talk about the record and the theme that runs through it. He said Backline Collective mined the unique talents of local musicians from different genres to give each song a distinct perspective and sound.
Dunham wrote and produced each song on the album with the intent of creating a piece of work that transcends traditional genres.
He said, "I had this idealized self-image ... and I was going through this spiritual journey ... and as I was stripping that down, I started to kind of release these songs."
Dunham said he began songwriting as a teenager in Central Vermont. He then played in bands throughout Vermont and beyond, including with local hip-hop funk band Dysfunkshun. Lately, Dunham said he is trying to focus more on collaboration with other artists and the production side of recording.
Speaking about the album, Ben said it “ ... was designed to bring people together, both artists and listeners. We all have an idealized version of ourselves that we would like to keep whole. But, in reality, nothing is picture-perfect. The album is about self-realization and the duality people face in everyday life. That dilemma is what, I think, just about anyone can relate with.”
The musicians who join Dunham to make up Backline Collective are Alex Gill, Andrew Suits (SoOts), Sara Grace, Chad Hollister, Jay Ekis, Brandon Klarich, Ira Friedman, Jonas Eno-Van Fleet, Katie Trautz, Kenna Donovan, Luke Auriemmo, and Paul Miller.
Backline Collective's album-release party is Friday, June 23 at 10 p.m., at Positive Pie in Montpelier.