CD Review: Brendan Benson

My Old, Familiar Friend (ATO)

Push fellow Raconteur Jack White aside, kick two other band members to the curb and you've got some of the best power-pop of the decade. Brendan Benson consistently churns out sparkling gems of pop perfection. Although he's been disguising himself as White's sideman for the past few years, he's been releasing solo albums since 1996. Lapalco, his second — and completely under-appreciated — CD, was full of jangly guitars and quipping lyrics. Yet the Nashville-by-way-of-Michigan singer-songwriter outdoes himself on My Old, Familiar Friend. A swirling string section adorns "Garbage Day," a Motown throwback with witticisms like "If she throws her heart away/I'll be there on garbage day." Rodeo-style guitar bounces around the repetitive and persistent pick-up attempt that underlies "Feel Like Taking You Home," and red-hot organ peppers "A Whole Lot Better," the firecracker that opens the album. Benson's warm voice sizzles like a hot spring on ballads like "You Make a Fool Out of Me" and "Lesson Learned." His self-harmonizing is sugary and singalong friendly. My Old, Familiar Friend is a piece of pop mastery that you can't pass up. — Danielle Sills

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