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BARNEY BENTALL —THE DRIFTER & THE PREACHER (True North Records)

 

www.truenorthrecords.com

 

www.barneybentall.com

 

Canadian singer-songwriter, Barney Bentall after a five-year hiatus is back with a new album. It is his 10th and what an excellent, well thought out and power packed project he has come up with.

 

The Drifter & The Preacher contains an endless string of fine nuances, singing voices and playing as one note-worthy song follows another.

 

It isn’t all about title tracks songs, “The Drifter” and “The Preacher”, but you also have the album’s first single “The Miner”. An effort he co-wrote with his son Dustin (with shared vocals) it kicks off the record in good fashion. It is far better than good if I am truthful, some of you no doubt will detect hints of fellow Canadian Neil Young in the song. Which is no bad thing, not at all.    

 

Pickers (band) on the record include Geoff Hicks (drums), Rob Becker (bass), Scott Smith (electric, pedal steel guitar), Kendel Carson (fiddle), Adrian Dolan (keyboards, fiddle, mandolin, accordion), Simon Kendall (keyboards) and John Raham (percussion) plus a bunch of guests to go with Bentall’s own guitar, piano and harmonica, and yes there is also horns and harmony vocals.   

    

 “The Drifter” like a few songs on the record it contains a hefty production. For though if contains stylish piano and fiddle and a good story it could have been more intimate (making it more powerful, emotionally). “In The Morning” (co-write with Cory Tetford) it too is a huge song. With his tight band, backing it to the hilt the staggering piece comes complete with heavenly harmony vocals to match “The Preachers” as ‘song of the album’. A couple more songs like them and you would undoubtedly be talking about a five-star record. Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo joins Bentall (vocals) on dreamy shuffle, “Won’t Change The World”. 

 

Providing a song with drive and edge, “Don’t Wait For Me Marie” reflects on a man telling his woman not to wait for him. Buoyed by superb electric guitar, fiddle, Dobro and piano it captures the feel of the adventurer, the soldier of fortune of this world if you like. For beauty “Say Goodbye To Albert Comfort” offers more than its share, and with sobering pedal steel guitar and mournful fiddle a rich melancholy feel governs throughout. Bentall holds strong to unhurried songs rich in meaning via “The Ocean And You (A Song For John Mann)”, and then with more grace and beauty than you could dream of, mandolin, fiddle, harmonica and sweet harmony vocal warmed “On The Shores Of Grise Fjord” nips in as the album’s finale. Enough to jolt me to revalue what is the finest piece of work on the record, because I believe it just about nicks it!

 

                                                       Maurice Hope             

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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