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ALBUM REVIEW: "With All Its Thorns" by Laura Benitez & The Heartache

Copperhead Records
"With All Its Thorns" is the latest record from Laura Benitez & The Heartache
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ALBUM REVIEW: Laura Benitez & The Heartache – With All Its Thorns (Copperhead Records) 2017

For you country fans out there who have been throwing up your hands in recent years, angrily turning the dial and seeking out some authentic country music – music made today and not 40 years ago – well, there is a new act I’ve been spinning nearly non-stop here at the offices of Red Dirt Report ever since receiving a copy in December.

I’m talking about San Francisco, California-based Laura Benitez and her ace backing band The Heartache. And boy, do they live up to their name on their latest record – With All Its Thorns – a follow-up to 2014’s Heartless Woman.

Listening to Benitez’s beautifully-melancholy vocal delivery, set against traditional, Bakersfield-styled instrumentation – guitars, pedal steel, upright bass, accordion, fiddle and so on – on an 11-track record that is very easy on the ear and heart, despite the themes of grief, betrayal and drinking your troubles away.

Yes, that may be love may came in the form of a rose, but those thorns can prick the skin and the pain runs deep, as Benitez sings on the Tex-Mex-styled opener “Something Better Than a Broken Heart.” Reminds me of an old Poison song ... 

I hear echoes of female country and roots artists ranging from Kathy Mattea to Tish Hinojosa in Benitez’s longing voice, full of bittersweet memories and emotions, as you hear on the murder ballad “In Red” that is more Western than country in my estimation.

Mid-tempo country-rockers like “Whiskey Makes Me Love You” are a bit paint-by-numbers for me, but again, Benitez’s utterly appealing voice sweetens the deal, and bears repeated listens. Kudos to Benitez and her songwriting partner Doug Tieman.

And the same could be said of the Spanish/English-language mix of “Almost the Right One / Casi mi Cielo,” or the mournful “Ghostship.” They compel the listener to really pay attention. Benitez's voice demands attention!

“The Fool I Am Right Now” has radio-single worthiness, while Billy Wilson’s accordion work on “Secrets” gives the song an added borderlands/desert-country quality that I often look for in my authentic country music. And Laura Benitez & The Heartache have nailed that sound down, my friends. And while those thorns may hurt, there can be a little pleasure in the pain - and heartache, for that matter.

With All Its Thorns is simply a terrific album!

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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