Seattle based Paul Benoit is a widely-travelled and hugely accomplished musician, singer-songwriter, and band member with eleven solo projects to his name since 2002. So it isn't a surprise to find that Lost Days Long Nights is a rounded, high quality piece of work. It grabs you from the first chords, the first lyrics.
Without wishing to pigeon-hole or over-compare the opening song "Arrow", it has the feel of one of those iconic bands of the mid-70s such as Barclay James Harvest and Mott The Hoople brought right up to date. A tale of unrequited love, this is a powerful opener that sets the scene for this refined album. The wonderfully unhurried pace of the Petty-esque "Losing It" is supported by subtle background lap steel and adorned with a fine guitar break before the final chorus. That gives you a flavour of the quality of this work, but this is where the comparisons will end, so you can fully appreciate Benoit's finely honed song writing skills.
The blues guitar riff that repeats throughout "Voices" again evokes a seventies sound in this dreamy, silky song. "Lost Days Long Nights" is a worthy title track. A story of travel that ably describes the life of this itinerant musician, this uplifting song has a gentle pace, plenty of space for Hugh Sutton's fine accordion playing, and an absolute earworm of a chorus.
'Goodbye Cocaine / I don't know if we'll meet again' is the line that kicks off "Sad Funny" perhaps personifying a drug habit, or maybe just a reflection of the escapism we all need when times are tough. With it's country rock instrumentation, this lyrically clever song is for me one of the album's highlights.
"Find Me In The Dark" continues the country rock theme, this time with a foot tapping, upbeat rhythm. Lyrically this feels like a plea to be rescued from a place the writer has fallen into. It is beautifully delivered, with the lap steel again featuring large. The pace slows for the jazzy "I Want To Believe" with its understated percussion and fine blend of lead with backing vocals.
"Bad Things" again evokes a quality Seventies rock sound, and "Daydreaming" surprises with a much more commercial, 'single' feel about it. "Heaven" rounds off the album with some gorgeous blues-jazz guitar chords, and questions whether St. Peter would actually let him in, and the criteria for entry for any or all of us.
There is a fine crop of musicians on this album: Dan Tyack (pedal steel), Dan Weber (drums), Will Dowd (drums), Ron Weinstein (piano, organ), Hugh Sutton (wurlitzer, organ, accordion). Rebecca Young (bass), with Sean Divine, Lina Naff Michelle McAfee, and Evrencan Gunduz on backing vocals.
Most of the songs on "Lost ~Days Long Nights" are around the three minute mark, with just one stretching over four, so this is not remotely a challenging listen. You will hear quality playing, great lyrics, and a silky quality about the whole work.
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