(2019 - self release - USA)
Quite the surprise and head turning release, by Haverhill, MA native and guest guitarist on some music by Inspector 34. This is his debut solo with a collection of songs that feature lyrics that are nearly the lost art kind, rich in images and introspection, and often in a slapstick manner. Travis Benson who is a composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist (not at all a limited selection of various gear, programming, sundries, and goods), performs, writes, and mixes all the songs with a superb guest appearance by Courtney Swain (soloist and Bent Knee member) on the opening track 'Sun's Song'. Benson is friends with that band and gives thanks to Ben Levin in credits. In fact, this solo is clearly a recommendation of you love Levin's solo work, in the lyrical and philosophical department for certain.
The vocal parts range from quirky singular lead to rich multi-harmony and even choral. With a very pleasant voice, I cannot imagine anyone not liking it. The variety of compositions have alternate twists including many complexities, not excluding some outstanding guitar work (way above par). His instrumentation is of a high count, including glockenspiel, multiple keyboards, and acoustic guitar. I found the massive amount of textures and ever-changing ideas to be a constant stimuli. The result of the creation is a release that sits up on a pedestal and makes one exclaim "Thank you Travis Benson, for putting this out on CD, so we can listen to it on a large audiophile stereo and have our blissful escape we need to much". The physical package is very nice, with gatefold digipak, lyrics and info inside, and cover art that portrays the music quite nicely. LOVE IT!
The album is ripe with an earthy, bedroom style invention, semi-avant pop, with oodles of great hooks, creative outpour, and material I consider classic worthy. This musician has big skill in the offbeat pop world. Honestly, I hope he does not get picked up by a major label who may begin to mold and dismantle the man's talent, in this do it yourself world he has taken control of. He has plenty to say, and in these seven songs, with many dimensions, the smooth transitions from art pop to experimental patches, and the subject matter from personal experiences, and the toll it takes on people, Benson produces a pronounced recording and one that I highly recommend. I know 'great' when I hear it and THIS is exactly THAT.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 10 - 16 - 2019