This is really petty of me, but I have tried for a long time not to like actor-warbler-whatever Ben Platt. I don’t know, it’s just that I feel there is something about him that is affected, calculated to get people to pay attention to him. Hence, when he warbles about what an Honest Man he is, I can only roll up my eyes and wonder whether he has heard himself—that fellow is over-singing so much here that I can practically see his uvula vibrating like it’s about to explode.
Despite my prejudice, I have to admit that it is actually easy to enjoy Mr Platt’s debut effort Sing to Me Instead.
The tempestuous Temporary Love has me feeling nostalgic for those big power ballads from Foreigner and Toto such back in those days, and that’s not a bad thing, really. This song is easily one of my favorites of the lot, in part because this is one of the few songs in which he is not forcing himself to belt the house down. I can sit back and let the music wash over me, and I then find myself humming the chorus of Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love Is in the middle of this song. No, really, it’s almost eerie how this song can easily segue to that song, not that I am implying anything here, ahem.
The sister song Grow as We Go is another lovely, bittersweet song, this one being a ballad that sounds almost sincere and heartfelt at times. The words are lovely too, as it’s all about how we can still grow and change as a person, while remaining strong as a couple with our partner. I am not sure whether this one or Temporary Love is my favorite of the lot, but who says I have to choose, really. Again, it’s no coincidence that this is also one of the songs in which Mr Platt is not testing the limits of his vocal range.
I like In Case You Don’t Live Forever, but just like Temporary Love, this song reminds me a certain some power ballad from the 1980s, although for this one I can’t pinpoint which song it is. Maybe it reminds me of a few songs, come to think of it. At any rate, I find myself belting the chorus of Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever while humming along to this one.
Better seems like something that is meant for Sam Smith’s album, but somehow found its way here instead. Then there are Hurt, New, Calling… the songs start to come together into a blur after a while, because they are structured similarly no matter what tempo the song is. Mr Platt indulges in the same kind of warbling with little variation from song to song, so in the end, everything fades to the background as some kind of pleasant accompaniment as I go about the house doing housework and what not.
Not that this means Sing to Me Instead is bad. It’s perfectly serviceable and there’s no denying that Mr Platt can carry a tune. But in a sea of Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi, et cetera, the songs in this one feel too much like other songs from male crooners that are floating around. It’d be nice if this one has stood out a bit more. Still, I have a feeling that I would be playing this one again some time in the future, as many of the songs blend well into the background and help relieve the tedium of cleaning the fridge or vacuuming the hard-to-reach places behind the sofa.