New Releases by Brendan Benson, Melvin Davis and More

Weekly music roundup.

Brendan Benson
You Were Right
Readymade Records 

You might refer  to Benson as “the other Raconteur,” but that only downplays an excellent yet often overlooked solo career that soundtracked a number of iPod spots and car commercials without boosting the Nashville-via-Detroit rocker into the “household name” category. With the Racs on an unofficial hiatus, Benson spent 2013 releasing monthly singles on his own label, collected here and padded with some new material. 

As with the last Raconteurs’ album, there’s a tendency to adorn these songs with complex arrangements and stylistic references to other genres. “I’ll Never Tell” volleys between reggae and power-pop, “Diamond” goes a little country, and “I Don’t Wanna See You Anymore” is loaded with organ, horns and strings. It all makes for an enjoyable exercise, but Benson’s real knack has always been for deceptively straightforward, undeniable pop-rock hooks. Good thing there’s plenty of that here too; at his best, like the way the psychedelic organ freak-out on “Rejuvenate Me” weaves around a propulsive guitar riff, they pair together perfectly. — Lee DeVito


Keith Jarrett 
No End

No End sees pianist Keith Jarrett shares music from a private home studio session from ’86. The session was recorded over a period of a few days with Jarrett engineering the entire, improvised project — overdubbing parts on two Tandberg cassette recorders as he went along. 

His well-known solo piano improvisations in the ’70s proved that his intuitive side was in sync with his highly developed playing abilities. He was creating complex musical compositions extemporaneously. All made sense. All connected with the audience. 

The instrumentation is, for the most part, consistent throughout, with the electric guitar being the lead instrument. Well-constructed bass lines, rhythm guitar parts, and creative drum and percussion patterns support simple, folk-like melodies played mostly on the guitar. 

The 93-minute piece is split into 20 parts spread across two CDs. It explores not only jazz, but also elements of North African music, blues, rock, Indian music and other indigenous sounds. Some of the movements are deep and dark, while others are gentle and sweet, as the piece moves through many exotic scales and modes revolving around a unifying tonal center.  — Judy Adams


Melvin Davis 
Chains of Love / I’m Gonna Love You

Legendary Detroit soul  ambassador Melvin Davis has some new vinyl recordings ready for release – two brass-toughened, funky shufflers jumping right off the wax; what better occasion to release these singles than a Holiday Party hosted by one of the areas recently established record shops? 

Ferndale’s Found Sound Records hosts its first Holiday Revue this week at the Shelter, headlined by the tireless soul dynamo. Davis’ classic, “Chains of Love” is given new life for its vinyl debut; rhythms kicking harder and strutting evermore stylishly to those fiery guitars and brass as he belts heartily over the roiling grooves. 

Cymbals and tambourines, sunnier guitars and softer-drums give a pop saunter to “I’m Gonna Love You,” sweetened with soulful backing vocals and Davis’ earnest incantations, with the forceful brass and edging bass steadily building the ballad up higher and higher.

Found Sound Holiday Revue featuring Melvin Davis, Laura Finlay, Pink Lightning, Pat Lewis, the Gabriel Brass Band, the North Pole DJs and MC Frank Woodman is at 8 p.m. on Dec. 20 at the Shelter; 431 E. Congress, Detroit; $8. — Jeff Milo 

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