For most of us, goodbye means something is over. It means closing a door on something or someone that meant something to us. It means a chapter is over—for better or worse. For Ben Oakes, a chapter is over, but the rest of his story is just beginning. That story unfolds on his latest EP, aptly titled, Goodbye Forever. A personal, spiritual and creative send-off to a life consumed by the pursuit of success, Goodbye Forever is an ushering in of a new life—one consumed by faith and the belief that music can be the ultimate translator to a generation looking for hope and assurance that they’re not alone.
Born in London, England, Ben’s household was full of creativity. His father owned a recording studio and his mother worked for the National Theater. His penchant for and love for the creative process developed early and honest. As many young people do, however, Ben hit some roadblocks along the way. Unclear on how to harness and express his artistry, drugs and other distractions providedinconvenient detours that jeopardized a promising future. “There was always a wanting and belief in my music. There was this lost boy in my lyrics looking for a home, knowing there was one, but determining himself unworthy,” says Ben. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.’ These words tell me that everyone has the capacity to change the ending of their story. I found faith and decided to rewrite mine.” At the time, bouncing back and forth between New York and LA, the tune of Ben’s new story was catchy and garnering major attention. TheShowTime network picked up two of his songs for the series, “TheFranchise.” He was even tapped to become the face of a fashion label.
But it was when he replanted his roots down south that Ben’s truest sound took shape. “When I’m in the creative process, I like to shock my system,” says Ben. “Moving somewhere you’ve never been, where you don’t know anyone,
was the energy I was looking for. These songs wouldn’t have sounded the same had they been recorded anywhere else. The amount of talent in this city is inspiring.”A multi-talented, self-sufficient artist,the use of session players and singers was markedly a-typical for Ben, but when he coupled Nashville’s best with his tried and true producing partner and friend, Bobby Dub, the result was electric. With the first strains of “Crash and Burn,” which encapsulates Ben’s personal turning point in life, listeners are pulled in with raw lyrics that not only recount a story of change; they posit the notion of
coming back from the brink in a light that’s impossible to ignore or dim. I put my faith in you, swear I’m never looking back/That’s how I crash and burn walked away without a scratch. The theme of personal evolution continues quite literally on the second track, “Evolution,” that’s no less than an unapologetic anthem for today’s youth. “Older generations can tend to judge someone’s worth by the way they dress or look,” says Ben. “‘Evolution’ reminds us all that age is inconsequential.
How someone looks has nothing to do with the way they think. And today’s youth are just as significant as generations that have come before; we’ve just evolved. We are Dr. King in chucks a Tatted up Robert Frost.” Here, the album makes a subtle shift, revealing Ben’s lyrical dexterity. “Baggage” steps away from telling Ben’s story or the story of a generation. Rather, it focuses on the story of one woman, caught in the throes of love, loss, heartbreak and regret. In the details of one person being Beautifully broken, Ben touches on a universal emotion that every listener has known, has lived and no longer has to experience alone. As the title track brings the EP home, that idea of not being alone resonates and comes full circle, making this not merely a collection of songs, but a statement of freedom and an invitation of community.
Goodbye Forever is not just a catchy hook or clever life mantra. Goodbye Forever is a glimpse into the life all of us want and can have. A life unencumbered by self-ambition, disappointment and regret. A life built on faith, forged in fire and driven by the heartbeat of a community we can all find when we are brave enough to say Goodbye Forever together.