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Album Review

Six years and three albums in, the Benjy Davis Project has become a cohesive unit, playing folk-rock arrangements that find the members interacting intuitively. The point of the band is to support Davis' voice and songs, of course, but the group has become a distinct unit in a familiar style. It's easy to cite antecedents, since they date back 40 years to when Bob Dylan and the Band began mixing a singer/songwriter and his acoustic guitar with a group that used a rock rhythm section, keyboards, and other acoustic instruments. Among the recent adherents is the Dave Matthews Band, and the Davis group also has elements of Southern rock, especially the Marshall Tucker Band. But then, there are also echoes of early Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Davis usually starts with his voice and guitar, then adds the other instruments, but whether the sound is flavored with a banjo, a violin, a mandolin, or a Hammond B-3 organ, the point is always to support the voice. He sings in a slightly gruff tenor with an elastic sense of rhythm, the better to add conviction and vulnerability to his lyrics, which are personal and straightforward. Inescapably, this Louisiana native confronts the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in such songs as the leadoff track, "The Rain" ("And now you're standing on what just became your FEMA parking lot") and "Graves" ("I'll build the houses, if you dig the graves"). But his main subject is the ups and downs of love, which he explores in immediate, direct ways, whether he is celebrating the intimacy of a relationship ("Good Enough") or lamenting that he hasn't lived up to his hopes ("Prove You Wrong," with a chorus that begins "I'm gonna be a better man than the one I was last night"). He is at his best when singing about what he knows best, the life of a traveling musician, particularly on the album's standout song "Clowns," which manages to be musically joyous even as it disparages aspects of the music business and features a chorus that cheerily declares, "Giving it up!" He is less effective, if typically emotional, in discussing world events in "Whose God?," demonstrating that he doesn't know any more about them than anybody else who gets their news from television. But throughout, he creates an appealing character, and his backup band has become tight enough to add real punch to his songs. [In 2008, Rock Ridge Music picked up the album for national distribution, and Davis took the opportunity to revise it. He deleted two tracks ("Prove You Wrong" and "Fine with Me") and added three new ones, "Still Sweet," "Tell Myself," and "Same Damn Book," also resequencing and remixing the disc. The result was a net gain, particularly because of the excellent "Tell Myself," although "Prove You Wrong" was missed.]

Dust, Benjy Davis Project
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  • €11.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Adult Alternative
  • Released: 04 September 2007

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