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Summer's Voice

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Album Review

Arlon Bennett describes himself as a guy who tells Harry Chapin stories with James Taylor's licks and Jim Croce's blue-collar attitude. He's obviously proud of his influences and, as promised, his voice and style will bring James Taylor's mellow crooning and laid-back picking to mind. His effortless singing and low-key approach to the acoustic guitar imbue his tales of ordinary folks coping with the ups and downs of life with a comfortable, homespun feeling. The production harks back to L.A. in the early '70s, with relaxed instrumental tracks that keep the emphasis on Bennett's cheery vocals and well-thought-out lyrics. Bennett is a skillful wordsmith, but he makes no attempts to dazzle you with his cleverness. His best tunes unfold slowly, revealing their complexity with repeated listening. He asks a lover for absolution on "Forgive Me," a swing tune that sounds sincere and arch at the same time. "Be the Change" tells the story of Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who helped spark the civil rights movement of the '60s when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. Bennett's restrained vocal gives the tune a subtle power. The title track is a nostalgic ode to the joys of listening to baseball games on a transistor radio hidden underneath a pillow on a long hot summer night. "Small Body Blonde," the album's one rocker, is about an electric guitar, although its double-edged lyric could just as easily make it a musical dumb-blonde joke. Bennett gives Johnny Cash's "Straight A's in Love" a jazzy makeover, with some nice loungey piano-tinkling adding to the tune's jaunty feel. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Born: Long Island, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

Arlon Bennett's songs have been compared to the paintings of Norman Rockwell, and that is an accurate analogy; many of the folk-rock songs that Bennett has written could easily be described as musical vignettes that vividly depict American life, past and present. The East Coast singer/songwriter's subject matter has ranged from Vietnam veterans ("Bandanna Man") to the late sportscaster/baseball historian Bob Murphy (who passed away in 2004) to married couples who have managed to stay together for...
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Summer's Voice, Arlon Bennett
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