Ben Burgess has spent the last dozen years crafting beloved songs in country music and beyond, including the 7x Platinum, 2020 BMI Country Song of the Year “Whiskey Glasses” recorded by Morgan Wallen.
A Texas native, he was raised in a musical household before setting out for Los Angeles. During his four year stint in LA, he penned songs for the Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, Martin Garrix & Troye Sivan, and more.
“I got to sit down with a bunch of professional producers and songwriters that made their living crafting songs. It was really the first time I had gotten to sit down with a bunch of strangers that were professional songwriters and get to learn from them and find my voice,” Burgess shares with MusicRow. “I wouldn’t trade my time in LA for anything, even though it kicked my ass,” he adds with a laugh.
However, that time in California surrounded by the pop music world eventually drove him back to his roots and to the importance of the song, pushing him to make the move to Music City around 2014.
“I feel like a lot of pop music and pop languages are just conversational words, they’re not as poetic and story forward. That’s really what I think drove me back,” he offers. “Sometimes you have to get away from home to realize where home is.”
And that he has.
Since landing in Nashville, Burgess has put his name on songs such as “Flower Shops” (Ernest feat. Morgan Wallen), “The Difference” (Tyler Rich), “Signed, Sober You” (Hardy) and “My Religion” (Dierks Bentley), while also nabbing cuts with Billy Currington, The Cadillac Three, Chris Lane, Florida Georgia Line and more.
Now, after years of grinding it out and writing for as many people as he could, Burgess has finally decided to take a step into the spotlight with the release of his debut album, Tears the Size of Texas, out this Friday (Sept. 30) via Big Loud Records.
The ten-track project includes a collection of songs from the last several years that were never cut—because they sounded “too dangerous” or because they were too personal for someone else to record—as well as a handful of new ones.
“Half of them were basically greatest hits that nobody ever picked up, and then the others were songs we wrote once I knew that I was going to be able to actually use my own voice to tell my story,” Burgess explains. ”If I’m being honest, I’ve always wanted [to be an artist]. It was just a matter of time.
“As soon as Joey [Moi] asked if I wanted to do a record deal, I was like, ‘I’ve been wanting to, bro!’” he adds cheekily. “By the time he asked, I said yes before he even finished.”
Tears the Size of Texas finds Burgess, who is unsurprisingly credited on each of its tracks, teaming up with some of Nashville’s many talented wordsmiths, including Ashley Gorley, Jessie Jo Dillon, Jesse Frasure, Hunter Phelps, Brandy Clark, Randy Montana, Chris LaCorte, Kevin Kadish and more, with all but one track produced by Moi.
The project’s singular outlier, produced by Burgess, can be heard in “Ain’t Got No Phone.” A special track that the singer-songwriter penned on his own, the tune speaks to the all too familiar experience of losing someone dear. “Everybody I know has lost somebody, and it helps me in my healing process to hear. I’m hoping that it’ll help other people in their healing process, too,” he notes.
Paying homage to his late grandfather whom he never got to meet, the album maintains an unapologetic, neo-traditional country sound many years in the making. With an earthy grit that can be heard in “When We Die,” the comforting “Heartbreak,” the swaying title track and the love-scorned “Started A Band,” Tears the Size of Texas features plenty of guitar plucking and neon, Texas-tinged influences.
A songwriter at his core, Burgess is the first to express his thanks to the Nashville community for this debut project’s long and winding journey.
“The songwriters and producers are the backbone to this project—everybody that I’ve written with on songs that made the album, and then everybody on the songs that didn’t make it. The Nashville songwriting community are the people that have kept me afloat in this town.” He puts simply, “There’s no other community like it. It’s so special and, to me, it’s all about the songwriters.”
As he looks ahead to the project’s release, Burgess dedicates Tears the Size of Texas to everybody with a dream who came to Nashville to chase it. Hoping to lead by example, his wish is that its ten tracks add some extra kindling to people’s fires and some more diesel to their tanks.
“I hope this album conveys that through perseverance, honesty, self-reflection, sheer will and badass-ness, all your dreams can come true,” Burgess shares. “On all these songs, there’s a bunch of honesty and creativity, and I’m hoping that it can inspire the next generation of songwriters and artists.”
He sums, “Ever since I moved here, I’ve wanted to make an impact on Music Row. I feel like I have as a songwriter. Now I have the opportunity to do it as an artist and I’m feeling really lucky.”
Burgess’ debut album, Tears the Size of Texas, is available everywhere tomorrow.
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