“You can hurt and still feel lucky,” Ben Danaher sings on the title track of his deeply personal debut album, ‘Still Feel Lucky,’ out September 7th.
Coming from any other songwriter, it might sound like a simple platitude, but in Danaher’s hands, it’s something far more profound, a moment of true enlightenment in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Born in the wake of the murder of his brother and the loss of this father, the album draws from wells of pain and loss, but is anything but self-pitying. It highlights Danaher forging his own path toward peace, growth and even joy.
Seven years ago, my brother Kelly was murdered,” Danaher explains. “He was having a birthday party for this three-year-old daughter, and their neighbor was upset that the noise was too loud. The neighbor got into an argument with my father-in-law, and when my brother came out to see what was going on, the neighbor pulled a gun.” The gunman ended up shooting three people before being arrested by police, and Danaher received a shocking call later that night with the news that his brother had died from his injuries.
The trial took two years. Meanwhile, Danaher’s father was battling stage four cancer. Danaher was living in Nashville at the time, and just two weeks before the trial began, Danaher headed back to Texas to sit with his father in his final hours.
Music has always been something of a family tradition, so in the wake of this inexplicable tragedy…it’s no surprise that Danaher turned to what was in his blood…songwriting. Drawing on the influence of legendary troubadours like Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt, Danaher pursued his own path as a songwriter, marrying hard-won wisdom and cinematic storytelling to capture slices of life with a candid honesty that cut straight to the heart of things.
The album opens with the Maren Morris co-penned “Hell or Highwater,” a soulful mix of bluesy slide guitar and ferocious, souring vocals in bitter revenge fantasy. The tender “Silver Screen” offers a romantic ode to a last call crowd, and the slow-burning “Jesus Can See You” singles out the hypocrisy of on an uncharitable Christian ex.
While his character studies are evocative and riveting, it’s the moments where Danaher turns inward… like “My Father’s Blood”…that hit the hardest. Overflowing with revelation and redemption, songs like “A Little While” and “Time Never Moves Slower” reflect Danaher’s maturity and acceptance, contemplating the impermanence of life, both at its highs and at its lows, while the album’s closer “Over That Mountain” looks towards a day when he’ll be reunited with his brother in a better place.
You can go through hell and get completely hardened up, but there’s always going to be this human part of you that can still feel lucky and grateful for all the good that’s in your life,” Danaher concludes. “No matter how difficult things get, in the end, there’s always hope.” That hope is ultimately at the root of why Danaher made the album. It was a therapeutic process for him, an opportunity to make sense of the inexplicable, but it was also a chance to respond to the universe with love and gratitude despite all he’s been through.
It’s only fitting that just in time for Father’s Day, Danaher shared a “humble and well-formulated tune,” poignant tribute to his late-father with “Father’s Blood” (June 15th).
‘Still Feel Lucky’ Complete Track List:
1. Hell or Highwater (Maren Morris, Ben Danaher)
2. Silver Screen (Justin Halpin, Ben Danaher)
3. Jesus Can See you (Drew Kennedy, Josh Grider, Ben Danaher)
4. My Father’s Blood (Erik Dylan, Ben Danaher)
5. Fred & Jonell (Ben Danaher)
6. Still Feel Lucky (Dustin Christensen, Ben Danaher)
7. A Little While (Marti Dodson, Ben Danaher)
8. Time Never Moves Slower (Kristen Reilly, Ben Danaher)
9. Getting Over Someone (Kristen Kelly, Ben Danaher)
10. Silver Living (Kristen Reilly, Ben Danaher)
11. Over That Mountain (Chris Gelbuda, Ben Danaher)