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Brent Bennett - It Must Be the Blues

Brent Bennett Music

9 tracks - Total time: 40:20

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Brent Bennett lives in Franklin, Indiana, a small but highly arts-conscious town thirty-some miles south of Indianapolis. Although he’s more established as an alt country/country-rock artist who’s garnered regular airplay on European and Australian radio for several years now, Bennett is also an able bluesman who made this recording specifically to show his long-standing love and feel for this music. Backed only by bassist Floyd Tucker and drummer Carl LoSasso, Bennett has assembled here a sterling repertoire of modern blues classics that demonstrates just that, a demonstration made musically eloquent by his impassioned vocals and excellent guitar playing. Bassist Tucker is also integral to the sound of the CD with his insistent, omnipresent riffs that resonate throughout as a low-note second guitar, with his churning bass the driving force behind the boogie shuffle melodic line of track 2, the Delbert McClinton-penned “Too Much Stuff.” Drummer LoSasso is an insistent presence on the last track, “Ashokan Farewell,” where his strong drumming accents add a sense of urgency to this bittersweet instrumental’s lyrical pensiveness. “Ashokan Farewell” is one of only two songs on this CD that aren’t blues; the other one, track 6, the title track, is a typical Brent Bennett original, a darkly melancholy country ballad of lost love played on solo acoustic guitar.

The remaining seven blues tracks divide into two categories, the slow, plaintive blues that characterize three tracks; and up-tempo blues that owe much in their arrangements to modern blues-rock for the remaining four. The slow-plaintive numbers are the opening track, Ray Charles’s traditional gambling blues, “Blackjack;” track 3, Otis Rush’s mid-1950s classic, “So Many Roads, So Many Trains;” and the 10-minute, 52-second version of Fenton Robinson’s “Loan Me a Dime,” track 8. The four fast tracks include, besides “Too Much Stuff,” Sam Cooke’s gospel/soul lament, “Somebody Have Mercy,” track 4; B.B. King’s “You Upset Me Baby,” track 5; and the Willie Dixon-penned “My Babe” recorded memorably by Little Walter, track 7. In all these latter three, Bennett incorporates elements from contemporary blues-rock into the standard arrangements, while still maintaining fealty to the feel of the originals. It is a striking re-creation of these classics that still upholds their original flavor. Something similar is done by Bennett on the three slow blues numbers as well, newly arranging them while still keeping their original feel and substance.

Brent Bennett’s particular forte is his flair for guitar solos, frequently long solos that still hold the listener’s attention throughout. Bennett’s often elaborate and multifaceted solos are economical at the same time—no element or note is wasted or superfluous, and all the various parts of a Brent Bennett guitar solo fit together as though they were specially machined to do so. This strength shows throughout but most especially on his treatment of “Loan Me a Dime,” which has solos at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the song, yet never cause the song to lose its continuity.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.

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