Music Review: Benmont Tench – ‘You Should Be So Lucky’
Is Benmont Tench’s solo album just competent or is it more than that?
Benmont Tench has been in the music business for thirty-four years. As a member of the Heartbreakers, backing Tom Petty, there’s little doubt that this keyboardist’s first solo effort would display musical competence. But does it soar? Let’s take a look at the tracks on You Should Be So Lucky before arriving at a verdict.
The nearly 46-minute long album opens with “Today I Took Your Picture Down,” on which Tench provides a Bob Dylan-style vocal and lyrics: “Today I took your picture down…/The eyes that followed me around/Daring me to stare them down/Today I turned my back on you/The celebrated face that stole a piece of/Every soul that wandered through this place.”
There’s a piano sound that might have been inspired by the E Street Band. It’s a fine, confident opening that nevertheless fails to take off.
“Veronica Said” sounds as though it was recorded immediately after Tench had listened to Lou Reed singing “Sweet Jane.” Enough said.
“Eccor Rouge” is a film noir movie soundtrack-style jazzy piano instrumental. It manages to destroy whatever momentum had developed from the previous tracks. Boring. “Hannah” is a love ballad from the school of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits: “Hannah, if this is a dream/The kind that don’t come true/You’re worth every mile I ever drove for you….”
“Blonde Girl, Blue Dress” was released as a single. It sounds like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with Mr. Petty on bass guitar and Ringo Starr on tambourine. It’s catchy but not quite exceptional.
“You Should Be So Lucky” is the title song and it is the highlight of the album. It’s like a lost track from a Traveling Wilburys album and contains some adult-rated language.
Tench covers the traditional “Corrina, Corrina” using Dylan’s arrangement. It comes off as flat; it does not whistle or sing. “Dogwood” is a song with religious connotations that, like its protagonist, is pretty much without direction.
“Like The Sun (Michoacan)” is a very good, very short, track that brings to mind a contented George Harrison. Unfortunately, it’s followed by “Wobbles,” another instrumental and another throwaway. On “Why Don’t You Quit Leaving Me Alone” Tench sings: “Every radio station plays the same forsaken song….” They probably would not play this Randy Newman knock-off.
“Duquesne Whistle” concludes the album. Dylan’s original bouncy version displayed moxie and sly charm, qualities that are mostly absent here. The life has pretty much been removed from the song, which is a shame. It’s a less than satisfying ending.
This album might appeal to those who are attracted to laid-back, understated and low energy recordings. However, for most listeners I fear it’s the equivalent of going to Starbucks and being handed a cup of unleaded coffee.
A review copy was provided by the record company (Blue Note).
This article first appeared on the Blogcritics site: