Brendan Benson, "My Old Familiar Friend"

Album Review
4

The Nashville-based singer/ songwriter Brendan Benson steps up his game on "My Old, Familiar Friend," his fourth solo release and first since a two-album stint fronting The Raconteurs with Jack White. Benson spent the early part of the decade building a repertoire of scruffy but sophisticated pop songs, but he fulfills his potential on this sparkling new set. With producer Gil Norton he made gems including the yearning, Motown-esque "Garbage Day," where the artist sings, "If she throws her heart away/I'll be there on garbage day"; the tense, haunting "Lesson Learned"; and the exuberant rocker "Borrow." Benson is a natural at writing insanely catchy hooks and tempering the bombastic pop treatment with just enough sonic grit to give it a delicious edginess. In less capable hands, the track "Gonowhere" could be syrupy or overwrought, but the lilting harmonies and keyboard flourishes are a delight. --Troy Carpenter

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