Album Of The Day: Benmont Tench Releases First Solo Effort "You Should Be So Lucky"

This aptly-titled solo album from longtime Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench seems a long time coming, but after a few listens, it will begin to dawn on you that if this album had come any sooner, it wouldn't have been as honest or unimpeded.  Let's face it, if Tench had wanted to do such a project at the height of the Heatbreakers' popularity, when most others would have done it, he'd have probably made one of this commercial-sounding solo records full of cover tunes and special guests that you find in the 99 cent bins these days.

Even now, as Tench and the Heartbreakers approach the home stretch of a hugely successful and influential career, there might still be that temptation to get stupid and try to make a "hit record" packed full of those aforementioned cover tunes and special guests.  But that's never been Tench's style.  Anybody who doesn't already know, or think they know, this talented man's style need only listen.  And what you'll hear is a man completely at peace with himself, who just loves making music, but is also smart enough to know that a big part of making music is not only indulging yourself, but your audience.  You gotta make something people want to listen to and that is precisely what Tench has done here.

"Yeah , yeah, we're working on a new Tom Petty and
the Heartbreakers album!"
On first listen to the album-opener "Today I Took Your Picture Down", you'll think the first thing Tench did on his solo album was have Petty sing the first tune, but that's actually Benmont singing.  By the end of "Veronica Said", Tench's voice has transitioned into a very likeable part-sung, part spoken rhythm that sounds so much like Lou Reed at times, you start to reach for the album credits.

Instrumental "Ecor Rouge" might get skipped over by those who haven't the patience for songs without words, but those who stick around will be transfixed by the subtle genius on display here.  Sure, there are no words, but if you listen, you can hear an entire conversation taking place.  And the rattle of actual strings slapping against the neck of a stand-up bass has never sounded so wonderful in this age of Pro Tools and automation.

"Blonde Girl, Blue Dress" sounds exactly like you hope it would based on the title, laying down a summery SoCal country groove that makes you wanna find the nearest porch or convertible and soak it all in.

By now, if you've been listening along with this review, you're no doubt aptly impressed at the quality of the material on display here and the fact that, save for "Corrina, Corrina", Tench has written all of the tunes thus far.  Where's the obligatory Dylan cover?!  Come on, man, I know it's coming.  The only things that remain to be determined are which Dylan song and how long before we get to hear it.  Don't worry, I won't spoil the ending.

What I will say is that, thankfully, it is ultimately an inconsequential addition to this refreshingly consistent album.  That's not to say that Tench is the next Dylan, but as far as solo albums by supremely talented piano players in great American rock bands go, this one's a flat-out joy from start to finish.  It won't sell a million copies or anything crazy like that, but it could make that next traffic jam feel like an afternoon 'neath the old oak tree with an adult beverage, an adult babe, but not a single adult care in the world.

You should be so lucky.

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