Benjamin Francis Leftwich talks new album ‘Gratitude’, overcoming personal struggles and working with Dirty Hit

Leftwich's third solo album is out next month

Benjamin Francis Leftwich has previewed the release of his upcoming new solo album ‘Gratitude’ by sharing an intimate performance video of his single ‘The Mess We Make’ – check out the clip below.

Leftwich’s follow-up to his 2016 LP ‘After the Rain’ is out on March 15, and he spoke to NME this week about the creative process behind the making of ‘Gratitude’, as well as overcoming personal struggles and working with indie label of the moment Dirty Hit.

Discussing ‘The Mess We Make’, Leftwich explained that, lyrically, it deals with his own introspection.

“It’s about checking myself, and saying like, ‘Look at all the chaos I’m capable of causing when left to my own devices,'” he explained. “When I [can] sit and look back, check myself and then move forward with more understanding and compassion for myself, before I can share that with anyone else.”

“I think ‘The Mess We Make’ is a beautiful representation of the honesty, the truth and the vulnerability in me as an artist at this time in my career,” he added.

The time period between his last album ‘After The Rain’ (which was released shortly after the death of Leftwich’s father) and recording ‘Gratitude’ included a stint in rehab – a decision which Leftwich made himself after deciding to quit drinking and taking drugs.

Acknowledging that his personal struggles were “undoubtedly tied into” the making of ‘Gratitude’, Leftwich said: “I think we all struggle with stuff: we live in an age of addiction, whether that be with drugs, social media or people or self, or whatever. We all deal with these things, and I don’t pretend that I’m alone in that or the only one that struggles with that – or that my suffering is of more of a weight than what anyone else is going through.”

“I definitely think that, when I listen back, there’s a level of ambiguity in the lyrics of some of [his old] songs – not to say that they won’t have a deeper meaning with the people who appreciate them, including myself – but I definitely looked at myself more honestly in the writing process of this record. I feel like the message is more dead-on.”

Leftwich said that he hoped that the message and meaning behind ‘Gratitude’ could help people going through similar troubles.

“I hope it will help people, for sure. I think honesty is the key to all of this: honestly, I fuck up sometimes, and we all do. But can we look at ourselves and check ourselves, and grow? That’s my truth, but I can’t comment on how other people will take it. I think it’s a big question, but I hope people will find a beauty and a peace in [the new album].

“I’ve been really lucky over the past 10 years to have my music soundtrack really important events in people’s lives: like weddings, funerals, births and probably break-ups as well – I get a fair few messages about that! It’s a privilege, and it’s humbling. I’m very grateful for it.”

‘Grateful’ will be released on Dirty Hit, and Leftwich says that the relationship he has with the label (which the likes of The 1975 and Wolf Alice call home) as “one of the biggest blessings of my life”.

“I met [co-founder] Jamie Oborne when I was 17, and it’s been an amazing ride,” he said. “And to be a fly on the wall there in the early days, seeing The 1975 and Wolf Alice come up and Marika [Hackman]. I’ve toured with these people, and it’s a blessing to be a part of that.

“It’s funny, when I’m on tour in America the first question I’ll be asked is: ‘What’s Dirty Hit like?’ It’s cool, you know. It feels like a lost art, a label having an actual identity as a label. But that’s not to say I don’t have friends who are signed to major labels and who work at major labels – everyone’s doing their own thing, I don’t think it’s a one-rule-fits-all kind of thing.

“But for me, having the patience, understanding and appreciation of a label like Dirty Hit has allowed me to keep making music.”

Benjamin Francis Leftwich will set out on a UK and Ireland headline tour next month – see the dates below, and grabs tickets here.

March
21 – Button Factory – Dublin
22 – Cyprus Avenue – Cork
24 – Empire Music Hall – Belfast
25 – St Luke’s – Glasgow
26 – The Caves – Edinburgh
27 – Wylam Brewery – Newcastle
29 – York Minster – York
30 – Gorilla – Manchester
31 – Leaf – Liverpool

April
2 – Junction 2 – Cambridge
3 – Open – Norwich
4 – Assembly – Leamington
6 – Cavern – Exeter
7 – Thekla – Bristol
8 – The Globe – Cardiff
10 – Church of St John the Evangelist – Oxford
11 – Union Chapel – London