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The Inside Passage

Barney Bentall

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Album Review

Bentall is an A-list roots rocker in Canada thanks to his work in Barney Bentall & the Legendary Hearts. In their eight years on the road, they played to sold-out crowds and racked up five gold and platinum albums. The band broke up amiably and after a period of inactivity, if you can call running a cattle range in British Columbia inactive, Bentall returned to the stage in 2008 with a new group called the Grand Cariboo Opry, which featured some of Canada's best-known folk, country, and rock musicians. The new band plays Bentall originals, as well as well-known hits by Canadian singer/songwriters. For this, his second solo effort, he mixes electric and acoustic instruments for a song cycle he characterizes as man's journey from youth to looming mortality. Bentall's smooth, relaxed baritone is perfectly suited to the songs here, most of them midtempo reflections on a well-lived life. Bentall doesn't sugarcoat the journey he's taken, and his long look back is full of hard-won insights. With the exception of two country-flavored tunes, the music is delivered with arrangements that imply the sound of '60s American folk-rock records without sounding overly nostalgic or retro. Highlights include "Face to Face," a song to a daughter on the eve of her marriage that recalls the joys and sorrows of her father's marriage. A churchy organ gives the tune a spiritual vibe and Bentall's voice breaks on last chorus, a nice emotional touch. "On This Beautiful Night," possibly a song about a couple on their honeymoon, views the old world through new eyes. "Sending Out a Message" is a road song full of the longing musicians feel when they're away from home. Its pastoral imagery gives the song a timeless feel. "I Never Meant to Make You Cry" is an old-fashioned country weeper with teary pedal steel and tinkling honky tonk piano. "Papa Henry's Boys" has a modern bluegrass feel with galloping drums, banjo, fiddle, and electric guitar blazing away. It's the album's most energetic track. Bentall recorded this set live in the studio, without demos or rehearsals, and despite the mostly slower tempos, the music has an intimate feel and an unassuming emotional intensity. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Biography

Born: 1978

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The rock group Barney Bentall & the Legendary Hearts was formed in Vancouver, Canada, in 1980. Members of the band, some that over time slipped out and others that slipped in, were vocalist and guitarist Barney Bentall, who also served as frontman, drummer Jack Guppy, guitarists Doug McFetridge and Colin Nairne, bassists Barry Muir and Kevin Swain, and keyboardists Will Froese...
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The Inside Passage, Barney Bentall
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