Craig Bennett – More City Sadness

Craig Bennett
More City Sadness

Craig Bennett is one of those amazing musicians who are so talented, they hardly need a band. Bennett sings and plays most of the instruments on this album, helped out on drums and a few other instruments on a song-by-song basis.
Bennett’s style of singer/songwriter pop is more like Jeff Buckley than, say, Bob Dylan. But while Bennett’s songs have that comfortable, sing-a-long pop style, the focal point is still Bennett’s lyrics, which are more often poetry than typical song fare. With his voice, that has a decidedly English feel to it, and a variety of influences, Bennett has created some mighty fine, hip, and perfectly produced songs.
“The Coffee Poet Cracked” starts things off with an amazingly clean pop sound, something between Jeff Buckley and Echo and the Bunnymen. The amount of instrumentation here is impressive, with keyboards, tambourine, and various other noises joining the regular instruments, most done by Bennett himself. “At Grand & Ludlow” is a bit slower and a bit more moody and atmospheric, but it’s resplendent with trumpet and wicky-wicky 70’s guitar for a very neat effect. Bennett’s voice shines best on “Robbie Snow,” especially the more passionate chorus, but the host of instrumentation and hip 70s and 80s influences here are especially nice. “Montgomery Clift” has a very David Bowie feel about it, especially in the atmospheric and echoed feel about it, and the use of strings and the sonic electric guitar is very powerful. There’s an especially British feel to the slower “Beautiful Face,” and “Smitten, then Shunned” has a subtle urgency, with almost whispered vocals. The title track is especially fun and full of wailing guitars, low bass, catchy, jangly percussion, and plenty of hooks. I do sometimes wonder if pop singers have trouble keeping a straight face as they sing, “la-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la-la-la.” And “Mesohippus” (defined inside the booklet) is even more atmospheric, with swirling keyboards and sounds despite its more raucous start.
It’s possible that Bennett is trying to do too many things with these songs, for at times the amount of guitars, keyboards, trumpets, cello, drums, and so on tend to overlap, deterring from each other. But the production here, done by Bennett again, is stellar, and those moments are few. Basically, you are just getting some damn fine pop songs with a host of influences and variety, all centered around Bennett’s heartfelt and poetic lyrics.