by Katy Shea
A sleeper to be sure, but The Benjamin Cartel have put out a truly solid, mellow, kind, rock album. This is the band you want to go hear every Tuesday night at your local bar. They’re low-key and create sweet, tight pop songs. That in itself is not extraordinary, but Benjamin himself brings a unique level of sincerity, poignancy, and humor to every track on the album with his warm and honest vocals. He reminds me of Freedy Johnston or even Paul Westerberg; his style is low intensity but strong and affecting, calling attention to careful lyrics and precious melodic turns. There are punctuations of rock (“Dead Light Bulb”) and also goofy and right-on pop moments throughout Saltwater. This record makes me feel happy and content that there’s sweet and meaningful music being made that isn’t melancholy, self-important, derivative, boring, etc. I feel like I’ve been let in on a secret.
(PO Box 15372 Columbus, OH 43215)