Lonesome Day Records
Scanning down the list of ten songs on Richard Bennett’s new CD, the temptation is to jump ahead to the six (of seven total) covers that close the recording to see how Bennett and guests Steffey, Stewart, Schatz, Rice, and Lane interpret them. Honoring Bennett’s programming, we’ll resist and examine first the more obscure and original tunes that make up three of the first four tracks.
Bennett opens the recording with his title-cut original, which uses an uptempo, minorish setting to underscore the semi-mysterious tale advising us to know first where we’re going. That’s followed by the Ronnie King/Danny Barnes written folk-Celtic “Bonnie” and then by “Stronger Every Day,” the most older bluegrass-sounding track, though one with ’70s overtones. To be honest, none of the three rise to the level of the better-known covers. They’re solid songs, “Stronger…” being the best, but it’s hard to imagine any of them becoming standards.
They do, however, fit well with the gentle, relaxed feel that Bennett and his guests bring to the album as a whole and to such covers as Sting’s “Fields Of Gold,” Kate Wolf’s “Across The Great Divide,” and the traditional ballad, “Georgie.” Tony Rice joins Bennett for a tightly-woven guitar duet on “The Last Thing On My Mind,” then similarly helps Bennett close the album with “Wayfaring Stranger.” In between are the polar-opposite arrangements of “Yesterday” and “Fire On The Mountain.” Bennett approaches the Beatles’ classic as a solo, arpeggio-laden piece, one colored with jazz chords and that plays hide and seek with the melody. This approach is later used in the opening to “Wayfaring Stranger.” The Marshall Tucker Band classic, by contrast, gets a full band treatment and lots of room to stretch out instrumentally. With its spirited drive and fine soloing, it is the standout cut of this entertaining recording, with “Across The Great Divide” and “Fields Of Gold” close behind. (Lonesome Day Records, 143 Deaton Rd., Booneville, KY 41314, www.lonesomeday.com.)BW