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Barney Bentall

Flesh & Bone – 2012 (True North)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Barney Bentall

It never ceases to amaze how artists on the opposite side of the border with our northern neighbors can make such a decisive impact in Canada, while still remaining all but unknown to those of us here in the U.S. Indeed, one needs look no further than singer/songwriter Barney Bentall to find a clear example of this disparity. After kicking off his career at the helm of his band, the Legendary Hearts, Bentall released a string of successful singles that scaled the Canadian charts throughout most of the '90s prior to abandoning the band and recording under his own aegis in the years since.

The fact that Bentall didn't necessarily get his due is certainly mystifying, but there is every reason to believe that belated attention remains a real possibility. The reason for the optimism resides with Bentall's sterling new LP, "Flesh & Bone," an album that encapsulates everything he excels at and then some. Clearly his song craft has never been better, with songs like St. Valentines Day, Long Lovely Love Affair and Her Beautiful Mind each creating an indelible impression right from the beginning. As an erstwhile folkie, his efforts on The Ballad of Johnny Hooke and Four Went to War recall vintage Dylan, a pair of rambling narratives of seemingly historic vintage. Fact is, Bentall never loses his populist appeal, and his homespun melodies and blithe arrangements perfectly position him as the journeyman troubadour he's always aspired to be.

With "Flesh & Bone," we can only hope that this excellence breeds admiration. As its title seems to suggest, when it comes to innate appeal, "Flesh & Bone" is as basic as it can get.