Where Joy Kills Sorrow is the newest release from singer/songwriter Garrin Benfield. It is a studio-recorded set of Benfield's new tunes, most of which seem like personal statements about life and love.

"The Loop" opens the CD with a lush melody and sweet lyrics. For this album, Benfield's band includes Garrin on vocals and guitars, Michael Rodriguez on keys and Russ Gold on drums, who floods the ear with full sounds that complement the compelling imagery. This tune, like many on the disc, seems radio friendly. All are under five minutes in length, which can be a good thing for getting Garrin's music heard by a larger audience. I could easily see some of his material being played on a national scale.

The upbeat "What You Wanted To Hear" is another introspective number but played in a more cheerful tempo. Benfield demonstrates his guitar chops, and not only is he a fine singer, but he can really play lead guitar too - sort of like John Mayer but with a greater vocal range.

The Beatles-esque "Answers" follows with another hopeful message, reminiscent in melody to "I'm So Tired." The catchy hook and lyrics of "Don't Panic" almost sound like an anthem written by a young Billy Joel in his more productive days.

The title song "Where Joy Kills Sorrow" is an ode to a lover with a lovely sweet guitar lead accenting the melody. Additional bass player Joshua Zucker and background singer Adrienne Geren add a nice balance to "Unwind," a rather slow tune with minor key changes which add to the pensive mood. Changing things up a bit, "Prelude" is a pretty instrumental with an acoustic melody and electric guitar lead layered on top.

"Ugly" is another of Garrin's personal musings about love. Compelling and thought provoking lyrics are again highlighted here. "Light the Way" is yet another slow ballad, but it's also optimistic in feeling. Beautiful piano by Michael Rodriguez complements Garrin's heartfelt voice when he sings "We're gonna find a way, love's gonna light the way."

The final song "Be Love" is perhaps the best example of Garcia/Hunter-inspired imagery. Benfield again stays within the mood of the recording, pouring out personal statements of hope.

So many bands today forget the importance of great songwriting. Garrin Benfield is a refreshing change from the norm as he crafts meaningful songs with potential mass appeal. Let's hope he gets more attention from this set of wonderfully personal tunes.

Susan J. Weiand
JamBase | California
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[Published on: 2/21/05]

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