Heritage/Lineage/Hand-Me-Downs/Scars reflects the wide-eyed optimism of singer-songwriter Ben Johnson, the lone member of Superstar Runner. Results of this record will vary with how jaded you are when you first listen. It’s a relentlessly positive affair and charming in its simplicity.
‘Advice From People Who Shouldn’t Give It (Don’t Take It)’ sounds more than a little like it was born in Conor Oberst’s bedroom. The intimate acoustic track grows and grows as Johnson signs more emphatically about not letting the naysayers of the world bring you down. It turns into a singalong with friends and, at one point, a human beat box. It’s a relatively raucous affair for a singer-songwriter, but the approach works for Superstar Runner.
‘Just A Lullaby’ plays like an indie version of ‘Hey There Delilah’, which isn’t necessarily a backhanded compliment. It’s a beautiful little song sent out to the world with lyrics that are almost too sweet to swallow. It’s an anthem for misplaced teenagers negotiating the awkward space between boy and girl on a sunny afternoon with the shades pulled low. The songs are built around either guitar or piano, which keeps the album moving along without getting buried by its own optimism. ‘The Next Life Available (Is This One)’ adds electronic beats to the fray to give it a slightly edgier sound than your standard Ben Folds track.
Superstar Runner keeps the listener engaged more times than not over the 38 minutes by wearing its over-sized heart on its sleeve. Much like the title of the record, Johnson wants to share a lot with you on this record and his enthusiasm about life should not deter you from listening.