|BRENT BENNETT "Under My Own Power" (Self-Released)
While the crap keeps seeping out of Nashville, the good guys seem to be hiding in Franklin, Indiana. Leader of the pack is Brent Bennett: tall, black coat, black hat, long hair and left-handed black guitar. That's one of twenty-one guitars he owns. And he plays good old countryrock, the music that was and always will be my first love! He also spent some time in California, performing with bands there and playing his own music, that period still flavors his songs. Brent wrote already more than 300, from traditional and alternative country to rock and blues.
Not surprising that the eleven tracks on "Under My Own Power", although in the countryrock vein, all set a different mood. From uptempo, rocking, angry to a couple of outstanding ballads pulling us into the story. Brent's voice is strong and expressive, he's an excellent guitarplayer, acoustic as well as electric, he also knows how to handle other instruments: he played everything himself on this nicely arranged album, which has a bit of a seventies Eagles feel, but sturdier.
Subject of the hook-laden songs? Life and all the aspects of love. Not only Beatlesque upbeat "I'm Gonna Love You", but also the bitter, lonely, doubtful and furious feelings in "Annie Where Are You", "Love Is A Trap", "Pain In My Past" ("Your lawyer calls mine...") and "Lioness" ("She's a lioness out for the kill"). My favorites are "Louisiana Is Calling My Name", co-written by Rob York, about a young man being seduced for the very first time during Mardi Grass; "Midnight Man", with beautiful Spanish guitar, about a machine operator on the graveyard shift ("I do it for the solitude and the extra forty cents an hour") and of course "My Heart's In Mississippi", a gorgeous wistful ballad with strings and creative harmony vocals, by Brent himself!
I can only imagine what this talented man could do, if he had unlimited (financial) resources. A studio with top-notch equipment, all the musicians and background vocalists of his choice, maybe a few more instruments like mandolin, banjo or accordion added and a CD with big booklet full of pictures and lyrics. All that stuff now being wasted on no-talents in Nashville...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, February 2007
|BRENT BENNETT & ROB YORK "Crossing The Country" (Self-Released)
A year before "Under My Own Power" was released, "Crossing The Country" by Brent Bennett and his friend Rob York came out. Brent is a professional musician for over twenty years, after he returned to Indiana he was involved with various bands until he formed Stones Crossing with Rob York in 1992 and played lead-guitar. In the meantime he also made albums with Ballast and Sindacato, while he currently works in the studio on an album with his band The Movers, featuring Rob York on rhythm guitar, Don Spade (bass) and percussionist Matt Allen.
On "Crossing The Country" Rob co-wrote half of the songs with Brent, the credits aren't specified, so I assume he plays guitar and maybe sings some harmony too. Otherwise this CD is not much different from "Under My Own Power", it's just as good!
The title covers the theme of this album very well, a lot of travelling is done in the catchy songs, by truck, train or Greyhound bus. Starting off with "Nashville Here I Come", the tale of talented young people ready to leave their boring small town. "Goodbye Gear" has the great line "My guitar's sitting next to me / She's told me where to go", while "Greyhound Tomorrow" got wonderful guitarwork and a story about the man trying to escape from an avalanche of debts. "Trouble In Texas" and "Ride My Train" are both exciting, fast rocking songs, the first one with the dark shadow of the hangman looming in the background, the second turning out to be a metaphor for seduction. Only one typical singer-songwriter track with some strings, "The Sign", an introspective ballad about a homeless man. Brent is great in his fast songs, but the ballads can't be missed either! Of course there are a few songs about love & longing featured too, for the long or short run, in the past ("Seven Months & 14 Days") or in the present, at the "Wishing Well Motel" on Fridaynight: "It can be our little secret" and at the bar ("Three Nickels & A Dime"), while the last song ("I had barbed wire across my heart") even has a happy end!
Before anybody passes this by as yet another self-released countryrock album: please, notice the superb songwriting in the first place and don't forget to listen closely to guitarplaying and singing, as there's quite a bit more to it here!
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, February 2007.