Preview With All Its Thorns by Laura Benitez & The Heartache
With All Its Thorns by Laura Benitez & The Heartache
As I wrestle with who to include in my albums of 2017 it is a relief to know I’ve got one already for 2018. Due for release in January, With All Its Thorns from Laura Benitez And The Heartache is a country album that pulsates both with lyrics that match the band’s name and outstanding musicianship. A couple of spins was all it took to prove the addictive potency of Benitez’s blend of country, honky-tonk and Tex- Mex. There is heartache alright, but the record contains plenty of tunes to put a spring into all but the most sluggardly of steps.
Before forming her band The Heartache in 2012, Laura Benitez had been playing the San Francisco Bay Area country/Americana circuit in The Cottonpickers with whom she released her first album in 2010. She recorded, Heartless Woman as Laura Benitez And The Heartache in 2014 while developing her version of west coast country based on the Bakersfield sound and her greatest influences, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. With All Its Thorns is the result of a few more years honing this blend of influences into a truly unique sound that I hope gives Benitez and her band the recognition they deserve.
So what’s the fuss all about? Go straight to ‘Whiskey Makes Me Love You’ and tell me what’s missing from this perfect country song. Sure, there’s nothing new about the dangerous effect of booze on emotions but start with a large measure of two step tempo, then mix with Benitez’s soaring voice singing of doomed romance. The result is a classic country cocktail to lift any spirits.
The record’s opener ‘Something Better Than a Broken Heart’ sets the scene with Benitez’s perfectly modulated voice, accordion and pedal steel. This must be a great show opener too. Pedal steel is the ideal accompaniment to the gentle reflection of ‘Easier Things To Do’. Benitez isn’t one for wallowing in self-pity. She could have hung on but no, she made a hard decision and moved on. ‘Our Remember Whens’ continues this introspective theme. This song did well in an American Songwriter Magazine lyric contest. There’s also more heartfelt pedal steel too.
The Mex comes out in ‘Almost The Right One/Casi Mi Cieto’ with Benitez singing some beautiful Spanish lyrics to a peaceful accordion line, then mandolin solo. ‘Secrets’ continues in much the same vein.
The slower, more stripped back ’Ghostship’ and ‘Why Does It Matter’ allows a fuller appreciation of Benitez’s perfect voice. This is more singer-songwriter territory and just adds to the versatility of this band. The ballad, ‘Nora Went Down The Mountain’ starts as voice and solo guitar then one by one the band come in to bring the record to a rousing close.
Laura Benitez has brought a fresh take on old time country music. Her voice is like sunshine which, with the twang of her band, bring nothing but joy to these days of leaden winter skies.