Sing to Me Instead – Ben Platt

Ben Platt is used to telling stories—he just hasn’t had the chance to tell his own yet. The Tony Award-winning actor, who made a name for himself in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway and the Pitch Perfect films, has crafted a deeply personal debut album, co-writing each track with pop songwriters like Ben Abraham and Eg White. The resulting sound is far more soulful singer-songwriter than show tunes or standards, with lyrics plumbing the depths of Platt’s desires, anxieties, and regrets. “I started from a place of wanting to break the barrier of playing characters, and being part of a greater narrative of other people’s pieces,” he tells Apple Music. “There was kind of a missing component of getting to share some of myself.” Here, Platt breaks down every track of Sing to Me Instead, revealing the real-life inspirations behind his tender, emotionally honest songs.

“Bad Habit”
“It’s sung with all this knowledge that they’ve gained from this past relationship, and feels very retrospective and looking back on this kind of whirlwind of a romantic experience. And realizing that there’s some level of addiction to this person, and some sort of constant pull to return to them. I thought that would be a fascinating way to begin because I think it piques the interest of what were the components of that relationship, or what were the feelings and experiences that made up that relationship that might bring you to a place where you’re unable to really escape it.”

“Ease My Mind”
“It’s just about a relationship that was very important to me. He was just a really special person in the sense that he was very much able to allay anxiety and bring me to a very sort of tranquil place that I always really wanted to return to, and I wanted to write a song that felt like it could bring the listener back to that place.”

“Temporary Love”
“I’ve seen [my siblings] go through so many relationships, and to watch them each find the one that they felt was the one that could last, and the one that felt different in some way, was just a really beautiful thing. And I was thinking about what that might be like when, god willing, I figure that out. For me it’s from the place of someone just realizing they’ve found themselves in a relationship where there’s that sort of confidence that suggests they might really be in it for the long haul.”

“Grow As We Go”
“I wrote it in the midst of a relationship that was dissolving—I think in a very benevolent way, there was nothing abrasive about it—but it was written from a place where I was sort of pleading with myself and with my partner to say, ‘I realize we have a lot of personal growth still to do and we have a lot of finding of ourselves to do, and I understand that generally needs to be something you need to do on your own.’ But I would like to think that in a connection that’s the right connection, with the right timing, that’s something that could really be achieved in tandem, and it doesn’t require breaking apart.”

“Honest Man”
“I was dating someone who was closeted, which is kind of a rite of passage for all of us. And I found myself sort of interrogating some shame and some embarrassment that I really did not feel internally, and have no reason to feel, but because I was with someone that felt it, I was kind of getting some secondhand smoke, if you will.”

“Hurt Me Once”
“You can feel that it’s not working and neither of you really wants to admit it and so you’re overly kind to each other and slowly remove yourself just to get some distance, sort of forcing the other person to bring it up—rather than a painful, confrontational one-time conversation and just nipping it in the bud, because you are kind of afraid of that. That can be ultimately more painful than just having that very difficult conversation.”

“Uptempo was the definitely the thing I was most afraid of, because I feel very comfortable obviously, narratively and emotionally, in sort of a ballad base—that’s just what I’ve grown up doing, and that’s where I feel like storytelling is the most naked and visible, and it’s the easiest to lean on the emotionality of it.”

“‘Still Hurting’ from Last Five Years is one of my favorite musical theater songs, and I was listening to the record as I often do. I kind of love the feeling of being left at the end of a relationship and feeling like there’s all this unresolved stuff. And ‘Better’ was the first song that I started writing when I was gonna start work properly on the album, and I was in a similar place where I felt like this relationship that I had been out of for a bit of time was still sort of stuck in my craw.”

“Share Your Address”
“When I set out to make a record, I really wanted it to be a good representation of myself at this point in life, and what I enjoy is humor and comedy and making people laugh. I definitely wanted to have a moment that felt organic for the record but that could do that. It could take itself a little less seriously and be kind of strange. I was into the idea of this over-interest, kind of bordering on stalking, but all of this really well-intentioned enthusiasm.”

“In Case You Don’t Live Forever”
“I had a great-uncle who I hadn’t spoken to since I was younger, and he was the only other queer member of my family that I knew about. And he passed away before I got the chance to really kind of bond with him over that. I wasn’t at an age where we could really discuss that, and I felt that idea of holding on to things until it’s too late, or holding back from saying something because you’re waiting for the right time, and that time’s never coming.”

“I’ve had a bit of regret—maybe I should’ve been more reckless and taken more time to explore things—and then I was struck by thinking about all the different times in life where I’m either looking forward or looking backward and missing what’s happening. So I wanted to write a song that was a bit of a reminder for us to be present in the moment and not pine too much for other parts of life, because then the ones that you’re in pass too quickly.”

“Run Away”
“I wanted to have a song that was really a tribute to my parents and the example that they have set with their relationship. It’s always just meant a lot to me personally, and for that reason I always knew that I wanted it to be the end, and musically be a bit of a lullaby—sort of a nice, hopefully easing way to finish.”