I met Benny for the first time this year at the Winnebago Room at the new Caravan Club. Some band called Lachlan Bryan and The Wildes and some trees called The Weeping Willows were supporting them. We were both in the crowd. Five seconds into a just by chance conversation and it was like we had been buddies for years. I had heard one of Benny’s songs before, but that was it. Sometimes, it is more than enough to get you liking someone’s music.
Obviously, from the all-star, not too shabby cast on this album, other people like Benny’s music too. He wrote all the songs, with only one co-write, the much loved single, Day One of Missing You, which opens proceedings, with some promising young fella named Allan Caswell.
In a year which has boasted some of the best Australian Country Music on record (pun intended), this album has been one of the ones that I have been looking forward to most. Benny sings the kind of songs that I love best. I am also prone to like singer/songwriters who play the piano….it is a quirk of mine.
If you get blokes like Glen Hannah, and Mr and Mr Magic, Fell and Carpenter on your team, you really can’t go too far wrong. The story behind the single and first track on the album and how you would interpret it if you didn’t know the story, is typical of these songs. I like that. I like songs that are open to interpretation. I also like listening to a song 10 times and getting new ideas and thoughts about the song, like reading a much loved book many times or watching a movie or play many times and seeing and hearing different things. You can do this with a Benny Allen song.
Some of Benny’s songs on the surface seem simple and easy to listen to and understand. However, there are layers and different meanings and that to me, is the sign of a good song.
The best old country songs were simple, the best new country songs are complex. When you get songs from any era which are both simple and complex, then you get a great song. Lachlan Bryan, Luke O’Shea, Shane Nicholson, Darren Colston, amongst others, do this. Benny does it too.
Like all good country albums, there are songs about love, loss, drinking, the bloke upstairs and hard work and weekends and a war song.
You will be out of your chair and on to the dance floor when you hear When You Say I do.
At times, Benny sounds like Elvis Costello, at other times he is a mixture of Paul Kelly and I can hear a bit of Luke O’Shea in his lyrics and tunes, not so much the voice, but the sound of his music and the meaning of his words.
In the last few years, there have been a lot of war songs, which is natural, given the number of war anniversaries but We will remember is one of the better ones. Grab yourself a drink couldn’t be anymore country if it tried. I can see people swaying at gigs and holding up a beer or wine. It also has the feel of my favourite country music singer/songwriter of all time, Kris Kristofferson. I love the duet with one of my favourite rising stars, Renee Jonas, When I’m With You Tonight and the final track, The Lord Above. My favourite song on the album is All That I Could Ever Want. I was actually singing along towards the end of the first play….that is an awesome sign of a cool song.
The guitar work on this album is excellent….Mr Hannah, you’ve outdone yourself this time.
This album was well worth the wait. I love every minute of it. Benny will be doing his Melbourne launch this weekend and another one in Tamworth. I will be going to the Tamworth gig. I am triple booked this weekend.
I had to listen to it with my headphones on my computer as my ears are not the best at the moment, but my ears do not deceive me. I can’t wait to crank this up on my stereo soon.
A big Yee Haa from me.
Day One of Missing You
Never Knew I Was Country
Thank God for Saturday
When You Say I Do
We Will Remember
Grab Yourself a Drink
All That I Could Ever Want
When I’m with You Tonight
Shelter from the Rain
The Lord Above
Released: 23 Nov 2018
℗ 2018 Benny Allen distributed by Social Family Records (Australia) Pty Ltd
All songs written by Benny Allen, apart from Track 1, Benny Allen and Allan Caswell
Produced and Recorded by Matt Fell, Mastered by Michael Carpenter
Benny Allen: Piano and Vocals
Glen Hannah: Guitar
Josh Schuberth: Drums
Matt Fell: Bass Percussion, Backing Vocals, Additional Keys, Organ and General Magic
Glenn Cunningham: Backing Vocals
Bill Risby: Piano
Renee Jonas: Vocals