Album Review: Ray Benson – ‘A Little Piece’
January 29, 2014
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Ray Benson may be best known as the leader of joyous Western Swing band Asleep at The Wheel, but he is also a fine songwriter, and his new solo album showcases Ray Benson the musically eclectic thoughtful singer-songwriter, with no Western Swing anywhere in sight. Much of the material was inspired by the recent breakup of a relationship. He co-produces with his son Sam Seifert and Texas veteran Lloyd Maines.
The warm-hearted title track quietly offers philosophical advice about how to live without anger and bitterness). He sounds a little like Waylon Jennings on ‘I Ain’t Looking For No Trouble’ but the song lacked melody and didn’t really hold my attention despite impressive musicianship. ‘Give Me Some Peace’ is livelier with its insistent demand. The Del Castillo Brothers play Spanish flamenco guitar on ‘Heartache And Pain’ which works quite well as a counterpoint to the gloomy lyric.
The minor-keyed ‘In The Blink Of An Eye’ has a jazz feel and is not particularly interesting. I didn’t like the tuneless ‘J J Cale’ (a tribute to Benson’s musician friend who died last year) at all, while ‘Over And Over’ was not much more appealing, with a very limited melodic range.
Ray wrote most of the material, but he throws in a couple of covers. The closing ‘Marie’ is a low-key Randy Newman song performed acoustically, while ‘It Ain’t You’, a tasteful version of a classic Waylon Jennings song never before recorded is the highlight of the record. Willie Nelson contributes a beautifully judged duet vocal, while the song itself is an insightful look at growing older.
My favorite of Ray’s own songs here is the ballad ‘Lovin’ Man’, a sweet love song. Also excellent is ‘Killed By A 45’, a compelling doom-ridden story song about death due to excessive exposure to a country heartbreak song which hit home a little too hard.
At times it is a little too adventurous for my tastes, and Ray is not the greatest of singers, but this is certainly an interesting record.