Brendan Benson - 'Dear Life'

8/10

Despite first establishing himself in the mid 90s with a string of bold and captivating alt-rock singles at the start of his career, singer and songwriter Brendan Benson is probably more well-known these days as Jack White's cohort in The Raconteurs. But it is clear that hanging around with White these last couple of decades has had a strong impact on him as he has found himself move further away from his more stable sound in exchange for something far more adventurous throughout. This is precisely what we get on his long-awaited seventh LP 'Dear Life', a record that is brimming with experimentation.

He has always alluded to this unconventional direction on his previous efforts, but very rarely has he simply let it carry him away, just to find out what happens at the end. From the start, 'Dear Life' is looking to be a release that pays homage to his influences but also tries to push the boundaries of those inspirations. Flooded with all the usual dual vocal harmonies, soaring guitars, and blues-rock rhythm, Benson blends these all these familiar concepts around a web of psychedelic atmosphere, tempo jumps, and even the odd autotune on his voice to create something altogether more out there than we thought possible from him.

Yet despite its bold and unusual manner, 'Dear Life' could well be one of his greatest albums to date. It has this fresh and exciting appeal that we rarely hear from artists of his tenure, and breathes new life into the sometimes formulaic alt-rock sound. It may have been eight years since his last LP, but this has been well worth the wait.

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