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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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