Album review: Brendan Benson's 'What Kind of World'
Jack White isn’t the only member of the Raconteurs with an album out this week. On "What Kind of World," Brendan Benson continues the solo work he’s been doing since 1996, a full decade before he and the White Stripes frontman scored an alternative-rock hit with the Raconteurs' "Steady, as She Goes." The new set, Benson's fifth, is as solid as its predecessors, with sparkling power-pop gems ("Light of Day"), fuzz-garage rave-ups ("Happy Most of the Time") and a dreamy piano ballad ("Bad for Me") that evokes early-'70s stuff by Todd Rundgren and Harry Nilsson.
Its best material, though, reveals the effect of Benson's recent move to Nashville: In "Pretty Baby" and "On the Fence," he duets gorgeously with Ashley Monroe of the Pistol Annies, and "No One Else but You" has a slick country-politan polish. And Benson co-wrote the moody "Thru the Ceiling" with Jay Joyce, who has produced three albums by the hard-rocking country star Eric Church. The result is like the flip side of White's self-consciously old-timey "Blunderbuss": a stroll down Music Row as it is, not just as it was.
-- Mikael Wood
"What Kind of World"
Three stars (out of four)