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Laura Benitez and the Heaertache

Heartless Woman – 2014 (Copperhead)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Laura Benitez and the Heaertache

The second release from San Francisco-based Laura Benitez and the Heartache has singer/songwriter Benitez focusing primarily on failed relationships caused by flawed, unworthy and sometimes evil men. Even the title track has the singer only wishing she were a "Heartless Woman" to make breaking up with a substance abuser ("But you can't say no to a bottle of pills, you can't turn down a drink/I've had it with your boozing/I've got to just let you be/Figures that my leaving will hurt you less than it hurts me") a less painful process.

Similarly the ballad "This Empty Bottle" acknowledges admirable qualities ("I know that underneath it all/You have a soul that's sweet and kind"), but ultimately judges the man in question irredeemable ("But you let the bottle take control/And let its poison seep into your mind").

With the haunting "I Know You're Bad," the singer expresses concern for another woman who is presumably repeating her mistakes ("She thinks you're honest/But I know you're bad/She thinks you're faithful/But I know you're bad"), while "Imitation of You" seemingly suggests revenge will come in the form of duplicating bad behavior ("If I drink myself dumb/But say I don't have a problem" and "If I've got nothing but my pride/If I go all hollow inside").

In "Taking What's Mine," Benitez sings of a woman wanting to escape a bad union with some dignity intact ("I'm packing up what's left/Along with my self-respect"), while the rockabilly flavored "Take Me Off the Shelf" finds the woman not only ready to move on from an unhappy marriage ("Turns out my wedding vows/Didn't mean a thing"), but hopeful that she has found new love ("I'm gonna sing a song/I ain't sung in awhile/And it seems to me there's a promise in your smile").

Benitez wrote 10 of the 11 tracks, the lone cover being an effective rendition of Gillian Welch's "Tear My Stillhouse Down." The musicianship is stellar throughout, particularly with Ian Taylor Sutton (pedal steel) and Bob Spector (lead guitar). With Benitez' pleasant vocals and strong compositions this is an entertaining collection.