Updated: Oct 22, 2022
Photos by Luke Rogers (@lukemrogers)
Stephen Babcock is simple, easy listening. Likened to a Neo John Mayor, he's been included in the same conversations as Ed Sheeran and Girl Blue. He's got his second album, When We Were Kids Ourselves, slated for November, and a North American tour already well underway. Built steady like a mountain and gentle like a summer breeze, it's no wonder people- not listeners, people- are drawn to him. A big family man, one of 4 kids, he's one of us. He's just like you, he's just like me, and he's got a nasty habit of writing these sweet and easy pop tunes that tickle just the right part of your brain. So what makes this new single different?
Babcock's latest single tackles (yes, tackles) that little nagging voice in the back of all of our heads. You know the one, that awful whisper we get late at night, when we wake up, in the middle of the day. The one thats been telling us we're not enough, the one that gnaws at you, exacerbating your most intrusive thoughts, until you just can't take anymore- until that special little someone steps in the room and takes your hand, and suddenly, all that smog just disappears. Subtle, not a beat too fast, mellow, and yet so powerful, and dammit, I hate using this word in reviews, but it's relatable. It's fuckin' relatable! It's too fuckin' relatable, get out of my head, man!
But seriously, this song was my first introduction to the Buffalo singer, to the "Internet Dad" himself. A guy who's sound is so genuine, so simply himself, that I almost forgave him for bing a Bills fan. I'd love to say that ever since hearing "All I Can Do," I've been rattling "Battle" and "Meant For Me" off the walls, that I've had Monroe, album numero uno, at the top of the rotation, but this isn't a guy I can just make up a nice review for. He exudes honesty, and should expect as such. It took me a minute to really get this song. It's not a complicated song, don't misunderstand, love through hardships big and small, love through flaws and all that, and I thought that was the end of it. I'm a bleed-the-blues, hard rock Southern boy, what could this Yankee possibly say to me, what could he possibly know, yknow?
Days went by, play after play, running this damn song into the ground, this damn... catchy song? Catchy? Impossible! No way! And yet I'd catch myself humming it in my kitchen, whistling it on my cold, early morning walks to practice. Before I knew it, it was already on my playlist, I already knew the words. And that's when I realized I needed to take a closer look at this tune. Yknow, maybe it does have this sweet, gentle warmth to it, like a big fuzzy in this harsh New Jersey fall I'm still getting used to. Maybe it does make me feel a little good on a rough day, I mean, it's alright. Maybe this Yankee does know what he's talking about... nah, no way!
But at the end of the day, I'm grown enough to admit when I'm wrong, I'm grown enough to share what I learned. The thing about Stephen Babcock, the thing about "All I Can Do," and based on his other recent singles, what I think is going to be the thing about We Were Kids Ourselves is the guys knows. He knows! There, I said it, he knows! He's not the Internet Dad for nothing, he knows what you need to hear, and he knows how to articulate that in just the right way. And somehow, I don't know if it's the Spotify algorithm or some Bills sorcery, he shows up right when you need with a comforting pat on the shoulders through the headphones.
I cannot recommend this single enough, it's a must add to your pick-me-up playlist, shit, add it to your cry playlist, it'll snap you right out of that funk. Also, Stephen, man, please don't take the Bills jokes to heart, I'm a Panthers fan, and this is all I have right now. When We Were Kids Ourselves, November 10th.