In an age when “tracks” have overtaken the art of the album, Garrin Benfield announces the release of “The Wave Organ Song”, a hauntingly honest song cycle that captures an artist who has tapped into a wellspring of inspiration. “The Wave Organ Song” is a perfectly paced musical journey that might best be accompanied by candlelight and a bottle of Pinot Noir. Lovingly recorded as to capture every breathy nuance, this collection of in-studio solo performances is an unadorned and chillingly intimate emotional travelogue. With the gauzy backdrop of San Francisco, Benfield sings of attempting to emerge from a self imposed isolation to once again connect with what moves us to create in the first place. While the lyrics are serious, the shimmering melodies make this a collection that reaches out and quietly insists on itself.
Known as a road warrior and guitar innovator who has spent years developing a complex, loop-driven solo show, on “The Wave Organ Song” Benfield eschews a traditional display of virtuosity and instead focuses on his voice and gently fingerpicked electric guitar accompaniment. He stumbled on this approach while deep into the overdub process of the now abandoned first sessions for this album. “It seemed the more layers we added, the farther away we were getting from the essence of the material” Benfield recalls. In an effort to refocus, he recorded a few solo versions of the tunes and immediately felt that he had hit on something more true. Abandoning the full-band versions of the new songs, Benfield and engineer/co-producer Michael Rodriguez started over, and “The Wave Organ Song” began to take it’s current form.
“This was as difficult as any recording project I’ve been a part of. Maybe more so because I was trying to get complete, unedited takes” said Benfield. He was not alone in this effort, however. “The Wave Organ Song” also features Benfield’s first lyrical collaborations, with Jason Durant and, on one song, Deanna Walker. “If one thing was going to prevent me from finishing a song, sometimes for years, it would be a missing verse or bridge. So working with those two was very motivating” Benfield said. Their efforts yielded songs that travel gently from the deeply personal (“Moanin’ Low”, “No Compass”) to narratives so detailed as to be cinematic (“Mexico”, “Snakes in the Woodpile”). In between, Benfield hits on universal sentiments with innovative Americana settings (“Rock n’ Roll”, “Are You With Me”), and indulges his pop leanings (“Colors in You” and his cover of the recently deceased Alex Chilton’s “Thirteen”). For those who think they know Benfield, this release will reveal an artist that is truly in the zone, with the newfound maturity to deliver a song straight to the heart.
“The Wave Organ Song” is Garrin Benfield’s fifth full length CD of original songs. He gained notice in 2000, with his stark tribute to Matthew Shepard, “What You’re Hiding”, which was used in a production of the Laramie Project. In 2002, after recording his second CD, “Nowhere is Brighter” with Bonnie Raitt’s rhythm section and guest Boz Scaggs, Benfield took up a relentless touring schedule, both as a solo artist and with his band. Some of these increasingly improvisation-heavy sets were documented on the 2003 release “August Live”. 2004 saw the release of “Where Joy Kills Sorrow”, and Benfield’s first foray into live improvisational looping, which enabled him to tour solo but with added layers of beats, bass lines and the searing lead guitar Benfield’s hardcore fans have come to expect. Playing eclectic sets at hundreds of shows every year, Benfield has become an underground favorite at festivals, rock clubs, coffee houses and house parties.