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Gary Bennett

Human Condition – 2006 (Landslide)

Reviewed by Andy Turner

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CDs by Gary Bennett

BR549 co-founder Gary Bennett's first solo album, classily produced by R.S. Field, is a welcome return to action. Bennett, who left the band in 2002, is a talented songwriter with a gift for clever, sometimes funny, but unironic lyrics that effectively convey his introspection and observations.

"Things That Mean A Lot to Me" is a nicely done song about appreciating life and loved ones that despite its familiar sentiment, does not come off clich+d or cheesy. The boozy and terrific "Ship in a Bottle" comes off like an updated Hank Williams ditty. The title track with its chunk-a-chunk beat and folksy wisdom spouting probably comes closest to Bennett's former band.

Bennett goes slightly psychedelic on the album-ending "American Dreamin'" and recycles "Better Than This," a collaboration with Todd Snider that also appeared on BR549's live album "Coast to Coast." Kenny Vaughan, Marty Stuart and pedal steel legend Lloyd Green are among those who lend a hand.