With ‘Sing To Me Instead,’ Ben Platt Finds Honesty Can Be Brutal — And Beautiful
It’s straightforward to get swept away by the valentine imagery of the music video for “Ease My Thoughts,” the second single from Ben Platt’s new album, “Sing to Me As a substitute.”
The dreamy, black-and-white clip finds Platt having fun with an intimate dinner and cuddling in mattress with a boyfriend (performed by actor Charlie Carver) earlier than the boys half methods below cryptic circumstances. Sonically, “Ease My Thoughts” is lush, bluesy and piano-driven, however a simple love ballad it isn’t: The tune’s lyrics additionally recount Platt’s experiences dwelling with nervousness and his quest to search out consolation in a romantic companion’s embrace.
The opposite 11 songs on “Sing to Me As a substitute” additionally discover conflicts between the center and the thoughts. Many hint the highs and lows of Platt’s love life, from the playful infatuation of “Share Your Handle” to a plea for dedication on “Develop As We Go” to an impending breakup on “Harm Me As soon as.” Others, like “In Case You Don’t Reside Without end” and “Run Away,” are melancholy musings on mortality and household. The 25-year-old has a soulful voice and proves to be a consummate storyteller all through, laying his feelings naked with refreshing candor.
With years of stage expertise and two movies within the “Pitch Excellent” franchise to his credit score, Platt is aware of a factor or two a few textured narrative. He informed HuffPost he views “Sing to Me As a substitute” as a pure extension of the abilities he honed because the misfit teen protagonist of Broadway’s “Expensive Evan Hansen,” the breakout position that earned him an Emmy, a Grammy and a Tony.
“I had experiences enjoying Evan Hansen that emotionally and mentally took me to locations I hadn’t been as a human being,” mentioned Platt, who wrote or co-wrote the entire songs on the debut solo effort. “I felt like I’d accrued sufficient expertise that I had one thing that I wished to say. I actually wished to be my very own artistic group not directly.”
“Sing to Me As a substitute,” which got here out final week, is Platt’s most private challenge to this point and the primary to totally break from his theatrical roots. It additionally marks a major bid to determine him as a pop singer-songwriter within the vein of Adele or Sam Smith.
When Platt first signed a cope with Atlantic Data in 2017, his songwriting expertise consisted of one-off rewrites of present tunes and radio hits for household weddings and bar mitzvahs. Though most Broadway crossover acts favor present tunes of their repertoire, he wasn’t eager about following that conventional route.
“If I used to be going to make music, it needed to be one thing that felt scary otherwise,” he mentioned. “The one factor that basically match the invoice was to make one thing utterly authentic.”
Collaborating with hitmakers like Ben Abraham and Jennifer Decilveo in London and Los Angeles, Platt started crafting songs he hoped would grant listeners a tiny peek into his psyche. There was no query “Sing to Me As a substitute” would additionally mirror his life as a homosexual man; most of the album’s lyrics characteristic male pronouns or are in any other case addressed to the boys he has cherished.
After the “Ease My Thoughts” video was launched in February, a variety of retailers had been fast to deem “Sing to Me As a substitute” a “popping out” challenge. However Platt — who got here out to his family and friends at age 12, and whose tv credit embody enjoying a love curiosity for Eric McCormack’s Will Truman on NBC’s “Will & Grace” revival — is weary of that classification.
“It was by no means one thing I used to be actively conserving to myself,” he mentioned of his choice to not make a public assertion about his sexuality. “I used to be all the time selling work that was dependent upon me disappearing into a personality. If I wished to talk out for something and in help of the neighborhood, I all the time felt like I may achieve this.”
Platt is aware of the truth that mainstream pop has a variety drawback, and his LGBTQ followers have already expressed their enthusiasm for “Sing to Me As a substitute.” In the end, he’d like listeners to be prepared to view the queer-inclusive facets of his music as one factor in a broader, extra “common” message of the album as an entire.
“Seeing what that illustration means, particularly to queer youth, is probably the most stunning, surprising reward in all of this,” he mentioned. “Hopefully we’re shifting within the course the place we’re in the identical boat and no person’s given stress to make bulletins or proclamations about who they’re, and we are able to simply observe folks’s tales for what they’re.”
Wanting forward, Platt plans to strike a steadiness between his appearing and musical pursuits. In Could, he’ll kick off a 12-date live performance tour, with performances lined up in cities together with Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. His newest movie, “Run This City,” premiered at South By Southwest final month. And he returns to tv this fall for his first main position in Netflix’s “The Politician.”
“I wish to say it’s ‘The Graduate’ meets ‘Election’ meets ‘Harmful Liaisons,’” Platt mentioned of the Ryan Murphy-produced sequence, which additionally stars Jessica Lange and Gwyneth Paltrow. “It’s a black comedy sort of political satire that tries to look at authenticity versus feigned authenticity, and really singular and twisted in a manner that solely Ryan can do.”
“Sing to Me As a substitute” is a sterling effort, however it stays to be seen whether or not it’s going to efficiently prolong Platt’s musical success into the non-theatrical realm. For now, anyway, he’s much less involved with figures as he’s with providing “good, benevolent messages” and “permitting folks to divulge heart’s contents to themselves and the folks of their lives,” pointing to the various YouTube covers of his materials which have already emerged.
“I attempt to simply accumulate all of these moments in my pockets,” he mentioned, “and let that be what’s main me ahead.”