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Brendan Benson finds himself in an enviable spot as he enters the third decade of a remarkably creative, consistently idiosyncratic career – an accomplished frontman, musician, songwriter, producer, band member, husband, and dad. Benson’s first new LP in almost seven years and Third Man Records debut, DEAR LIFE marks this consummate polymath’s most inventive and upbeat work thus far, an 11-track song cycle about life, love, family, fatherhood, and the pure joy of making music. Produced and almost entirely performed by Benson at his own Readymade Studio in Nashville, the album sees the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist – and co-founder, with Jack White, of The Raconteurs – reveling in a more modernist approach than ever before, fueled by a heady brew of cannabis, hip-hop, and a newly discovered interest in software drum programming. The result is an untapped playfulness that elevates expertly crafted songs like the future funk-fueled opener, “I Can If You Want Me To,” and the rhapsodic first single, “Good To Be Alive,” with voluble arrangements, elastic grooves, and incandescent power. Imbued with revitalized ambition and confidence, DEAR LIFE is Brendan Benson at his very best.
“There's something about this record,” Benson says. “A friend of mine called it ‘life- affirming.’ I thought it was a joke at first but then realized, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that's what's going on with me.”
Beginning with 1996’s now-classic debut, ONE MISSISSIPPI – recently reissued by Third Man in its first-ever vinyl pressing and available – and its masterful 2002 follow-up, LAPALCO, Benson has always infused classic craftsmanship with contemporary invention. Along with his own critically acclaimed canon, Benson is of course co-founder – with Jack White, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler – of The Raconteurs. The band first convened in 2006, winning worldwide acclaim, GRAMMY® Award nominations, and a chart-topping smash single in “Steady As She Goes,” with their now-classic debut album, BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS. The Raconteurs returned two short years later with 2008’s CONSOLERS OF THE LONELY. Like its predecessor, the LP proved a popular and critical phenomenon, earning the GRAMMY® Award for “Best Engineered Non-Classical Album” as well as a nomination as “Best Rock Album.” After more than a decade, The Raconteurs finally returned to action in 2019 with their critically acclaimed, chart- topping third LP, HELP US STRANGER, highlighted in part by songs Benson had initially considered for his own LP, “Only Child” and “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying).” The Raconteurs’ epic 2019 world tour proved equally successful, playing to ecstatic sold-out houses from Nashville to New Zealand and all points in-between.