City Pop

Benny Sings

Stones Throw Records, 2019

http://www.bennysings.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/12/2019

A Dutch singer-songwriter with a penchant for R&B, jazz, pop and hip-hop sounds, Benny Sings (whose real name is Tim van Berkestijn) has had a prolific career so far with a handful of records under his belt since the early 2000s.

my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 City Pop, a record that thematically offers real life observations and insight into love, has his inimitable vocals and mashing of softer sounds coming together carefully and cautiously. This release is his sixth album and first with the Stones Throw label.

“Everything I Know” starts the listen with gentle keys and equally calm vocals before abruptly building into pop fueled sounds that are both soulful and agile. “Familiar” then follows with a firm beat that's highly danceable and with velvety singing guiding the way.

Elsewhere, “Not Enough”, the first single, brings a fuller atmosphere of '70s influenced sounds with horns, where Motown influences are in attendance, and “Duplicate”, with the Canadian singer Mocky, continues the soulfulness with synthetic drums in a lively setting that recruits funk with excellent, groovy results.

The back half of the listen offers the busy and lush, primarily instrumental “Summerlude” that also gets ambient and mysterious, and the summery melodies of “Dreamin',” a track so radiant that it alone is worth picking up the album. “Softly (Tokyo)” ends the record with plenty of retro grooves in the easy going exit that punctuates the stylish and charming LP quite well.

City Pop is an extremely personal record. Jazz and soul are large components to the Benny Sings formula here, and the forthright lyrics fit well alongside the intimate environment. Though we've all heard Berkestijn's work before on HBO, Netflix, and plenty of TV commercials, as Benny Sings, he's redefining soft rock in a way that is entirely his own. And he deserves far more attention than he is getting for it, too.

Rating: B+

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