Most folks know Brendan Benson as a member of The Raconteurs with Jack White, but Benson is also a well-established solo artist. Since 1997, he has put out a number of critically-acclaimed, though sometimes commercially disappointing, albums.
“You Were Right,” due out on Dec. 10, is his latest. It finds Benson once again doing his thing: playing straight-ahead pop rock with a slightly classic vibe.
Benson is a talented multi-instrumentalist with a deep musical vocabulary. Songs on “You Were Right” touch on Stax-Volt soul, Dire Straits, The Eagles, hard rock – even some Nashville twang and tinges of reggae.
Crunchy guitars and vintage electric organ tones abound. Benson’s vocals range from sweet and sincere to gritty and soulful. And there are plenty of sing-a-long choruses too.
That being said, with all its dense arrangements and solid songwriting, “You Were Right” is missing something. It’s not a bad album, but it’s not a great album (albeit significantly better than 2012’s “What Kind Of World”).
There are certainly some exceptional tracks here. “I’ll Never Tell,” with its slinky choruses between overdriven verses, is one of the standouts. “I Don’t Want To See You Anymore,” where Benson sings with soulful yearning as a hot organ and horn section accompany, is the undisputed champ of the album.
However, half the album is just kind of “meh…” With 15 tracks on “You Were Right,” there was bound to be some filler. Perhaps Benson should have saved a few of these songs for the bonus disc of the deluxe edition. Regardless, it’s just missing a little certain something special that might put it over the top.
At any rate, this is a good/fair/alright album and worth checking out for the handful of really good tunes. Listeners of guitar-centric music should find it palatable, and fans of Benson (and The Raconteurs for that matter) will surely get into it.