ERIN BENNETT & THE EB BAND
The mightily talented Texan guitarist/vocalist/songwriter, Erin Bennett, a “girl reflowered”, has been going from strength to strength with her career since her days fronting Syren, right up to going solo. And here we have the latest fruits of her ever-fertile creativity, ‘Post Sexy Post Truth’, the full-length follow-up to 2015’s ‘Reflowered’ album. I’m delighted to report that she’s continued her musical journey by delivering something rather special indeed, with the backing of ‘The EB Band’, who’ve helped bring her songs to life in the most exhilarating, heartfelt and expressively dynamic of ways.
On the surface, tracks are an amalgam of alt and classic rock idioms that have been adopted and adapted efficaciously by Erin and her band for their own self-styled sense of emotional expression. So much so, in fact, it's resulted in twelve cuts that are not only naturally progressive through the emotionally-charged sonic paths they take within some finely crafted instrumentations and vocal arrangements, but where the songs actually transcend any semblance of stylistic affinity. This, for me, is one of ‘Post Sexy Post Truth’s unmitigated strengths; where the songwriting takes centre stage, and genre elements are merely used as a means to bring the compositions to life. To colour them in certain ways to conjure and accentuate particular moods, atmospheres and emotions. Genre most certainly does not take precedence here. It's all about the profundity of emotional expression that's conveyed through the songs themselves. This is songcraft at its finest, and performance sincerity at its most potent.
Each track is like a refreshing blast of affective sincerity, loaded with a whole heap of unadulterated attitude and raw energy, in equal measure. The emotions conveyed are palpable. Music, and any other art form, should be all about emotional expression at the very core of its essence. And, from a listener's standpoint, engaging with music is about how profoundly emotional s/he's able to connect to it. And I've found myself connecting with 'Post Sexy Post Truth' on a deeper and deeper level with each new listen. This is music that speaks to my emotions. Music that makes me feel. Music that makes me feel alive. Coupled with cognitively provocative lyrics, that's an incredibly potent combo.
There are so many depths here. Depths that reveal themselves with repeated listens, as songs emotionally resonate with me more and more. Of course, such an emotional profundity is brought to life and conveyed through only the finest musicianship. Not of the cold, technically flawless, virtuosic kind, but of the passionate and pure variety, where discernible flaws (or, I should say, idiosyncrasies) are part of the very emotional fabric of the songs. And there are idiosyncrasies to be heard. We all have them. It's part of what makes us human. And, on 'Post Sexy Post Truth', they're unashamedly embraced. Don't get me wrong - the musicianship is of a very high calibre, but the performances are more about emotional flair and fervency than virtuosic sterility.
Central to all the songs is Erin's incredible voice, which is so utterly wide ranging, not only in terms of tonality, but also in the emotional depths she's able to convey. Her general guitar sound, which is almost grunge-styled in nature, with its looser and dirtier distortion, is ever so apposite. Anything more polished and 'tight' would not have been in songs' favour in conveying the potency of their moods. Of course, it’s not all about dirty distortion, as her clean and warmer lead sounds also help in affectively conveying songs’ emotions.
And then we have The EB Band which, apart from drummer Anna Fraser, is comprised of ex-Rockbitch members; the sorely missed musical iconoclasts, who were as hideously underrated as they were maligned through all kinds of ugly prejudice, and incessantly persecuted for presenting themselves to the world in the most sincere and open of ways. I could write a book about this so, before I diverge too far from this review, I'll just assert that they were one of the most culturally significant bands of the last... well, ever... and it's sheer bliss to hear their musical chops put to great use once again. The first time, I believe, since their stateside incarnation as MT-TV, during the noughties.
In particular, Kittie’s backing vocals (previously Babe/Alex), are utterly wondrous through the unmistakable inflections and depth of expression in her voice. Vocal harmonies are completed by Suna and Nikki Fraser’s vocal talents in some very nicely posited backing work. And Nikki’s keys (across keyboards; synths; Hammond organ; and harmonium) add both subtle and emphatic layers of emotionally-charged sonic bliss in all the right places (some of her arpeggio-led keys and synth sounds are ever so reminiscent of Rockbitch). Then there’s Dog’s bass work, a man whose grasp over his fretboard is discernibly astute in adding both resonance and lower-end melodies to the songs. And Anna has a natural flair on drums, riding and adding to songs’ emotions through all kinds of tempo changes, with a full control over the timbre of her kit.
Through the combined talents of both Erin and her band, ‘Post Sexy Post Truth’ is a rather magnificent work with an emotional breadth, depth, sincerity and power that sounds a hundred per cent authentic. There are zero contrivances or pretences to be heard here. It’s breath-taking, profoundly moving and stimulating stuff. All helped by a fantastic production by Dog that eschews any sense of overly-sterile Pro Tools polish, in favour of a very “human” sound. This is a very human album at its heart. Buy it, feel it and relish it.
POST SEXY POST TRUTH
Review by Mark Holmes
1st February 2018
1) Twofold's The Pain
2) Hecate; 3) Tension
8) Cold & Still
11) Something Has To Separate
12) Stormy Waters
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This is songcraft at its finest, and performance sincerity at its most potent. Each track is like a refreshing blast of affective sincerity, loaded with a whole heap of unadulterated attitude and raw energy, in equal measure."