September 12, 2002

Test Spin: Garrin Benfield

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Garrin Benfield sounds like he can’t decide whether he wishes he were John Mayer, Sting, or Eric Clapton. The problem is, John Mayer has thousands of female groupies, not to mention a unique song-writing sense, while Sting has a incomparable voice and a profound knowledge of the tantra, and Eric Clapton is, well, Eric Clapton. Garrin Benfield, unfortunately has none of those things going for him. His sophomore release, Nowhere is Brighter, can be described generally as fairly inoffensive to the ear, but not much else.

Nowhere is Brighter is sixty-eight minutes of Benfield crooning over the standard guitar/bass/drums pop-rock ensemble, with a piano or trumpet thrown in here or there. The songs go from slowish tempo to slowish tempo, dull lyric to more dull lyrics (“oh my brother/ you’re my brother/ but lately you’re acting more/ like my mother” of the inexplicably titled, “Brother”), and quasi-meloncholy timbre to quasi-melancholy timbre, without a catchy chorus, interesting melody, or captivating mood among them.

The only highlight of the album is Boz Scaggs’ (formerly of the Steve Miller Band) contribution to the track, “The Sense That I Get.” Scagg’s guitar solos help the song achieve a simple, bluesy quality that serves up a much needed change from the rest of the album. However, another acceptable change would be turning the album off.

Archived article by Thea Brown