Hearing Aide: Brendan Benson ‘You Were Right’
Singer/Songwriter and power pop emissary Brendan Benson will be releasing his eighth solo album on November 29th, 2013 for a Record Store Day Black Friday vinyl only exclusive, and in official digital/CD capacity on December 10th, through his own Readymade Records. Benson, who is recognized as the other principal songwriter in addition to Jack White in the Raconteurs, has again developed a melodically infectious and lyrically intelligent collection of songs. Released only a year removed from 2012’s What Kind of World, You Were Right collects the entirety of Brendan’s special Readmade single releases throughout 2013, in addition to demos unearthed and reworked from Benson’s vault to round out the substantial 15 song release.
For fans of Brendan Benson, the usual hallmarks can be expected on this release, sugary sweet melodies, lofty vocals and a willingness to experiment. For those new to Benson, expect to find relevant and often self-depreciating lyrics supported by sturdy melodic foundations that echo Benson’s long and varied list of influences. Benson is blessed with the innate ability to draw the blood out of any melody and inject it with originality and a humble translation. Through his truthful and often humorous commentary on the male/female dynamics of relationships, Benson has developed into one of the greatest modern day songwriters, and on You Were Right, he again delivers a divergent collection, able to sit comfortably under any classification or critique. After a few spins this LP soaks in to you skin, finding you singing in the shower, humming in the car, and waking with its numerous melodies bouncing around your skull.
The LP opens with the hook of a song that is instantly recognizable, yet brand new and completely unique. Just like an ‘old familiar friend’, the opening track ‘It’s Your Choice’ elicits the rare feeling of loving a song the first time you hear it. The addictive instrumentation forces the listener’s ear to crane, like a dog who has just heard a random rustle or tussle outside the window. Benson’s full pop sensibilities are on display with this introduction to the album. Sounding like a classic in the making, the harmonies give the song a big and sleek sound and an groovy aesthetic.
Tracks like ‘Rejuvenate Me and ‘As of Tonight’ continue the theme of Benson’s penchant for opening his records with powerful tracks, a habit that can be traced back to his debut LP. In contrast, ‘Diamond’ which was released as a single, reflects some of the down home influence Nashville (where Brendan lives and the LP was recorded) has had on Benson, both in attitude and melodic expression. This track is a recipient of Benson’s inherent gift to mix any genre with his pop influence, coming out with something contemporary and mellifluous. ‘Diamond’s’ melody line is a high and lonesome back porch holler, smelling of wood smoke and booze, it’s Appalachia backbone transposed with a urban recording studio. The myriad of diverse styles and approaches continue throughout the record spotlighted in tracks such as the 1960’s flashback “I Don’t Want To See You Anymore’, the smoky reggae burn of concert favorite ‘I’ll Never Tell’, and a song that encapsulates Benson’s songwriting style, the vocally dead pan, musically flamboyant ‘She’s Trying To Poison Me’
‘Purely Automatic’ was also one of the singles Benson released this year, and for good reason. Beginning on an edgy descending rock and roll introduction, the longest song on the LP springs excitedly into a banging march. The song was originally a contender for Benson’s 2009 LP My Old Familiar Friend, somehow falling by the wayside, and luckily reappearing here. ‘New Words of Wisdom’, ‘Oh My Love’ and ‘The Fritz’ all use the acoustic guitar as their respective foundation and are the melodic teeter-totters rebounding Benson’s resonant musical ideas. The next to last track of the record is another song featured as a 2013 single release, ‘Swimming’ is easily one of the strongest tracks both musically and lyrically from Benson on the LP. The album concludes with the number ‘Red White and Blues’, a honky-tonk bar room brawl of a tune. Metaphorically referring to certain pharmaceuticals, the track feels as if it could have come from a Raconteur’s recording session, lending itself to that kind of edgy reading.
Brendon Benson’s new LP release You Were Right is a record that offers a rare guarantee to the listener, a promise that the music found within will be honest, made with an attention to detail, and played with conviction and attitude. Benson’s consistent musical output has shown no decline in quality, only an increase in willingness to experiment, and the ability to take chances through artistic expression. Benson has and will continue to offer an honest analysis of the dynamics and intricacies of interpersonal relationships, as well as humorous and always self-aware glimpses of his life and commentaries on our own. His musical development is in constant flux, and his collection of melodies, harmonies and production talents continues to grow and find differing avenues for expression. Lovers of rock and roll that can make you think, as well as dance should look no further that Brendan Benson’s new record You Were Right, available November 29 in a limited LP release and December 10 here in its official capacity.