With All Its Thorns

Laura Benitez And The Heartache

Copperhead Records, 2018


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Sometimes, a band name and an album title can really let you know what you're getting into.

In this case, Benitez's third album is an autobiographical account of heartbreaking tunes with all the emotions and vulnerability that comes with the territory. Her accomplished band backs up her sweet vocals with pedal steel, accordions, and upright bass on these country songs.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Something Better Than A Broken Heart” starts the listen and is an accordion fueled country rocker with warm guitars solos and harmonizing vocals that point towards a Cajun influence. Next, it moves into the more solemn “Easier Things To Do,” where Benitez's gorgeous vocals are highlighted and the pedal steel gives it a rustic, aching quality.

Though most of the album is full, making great use of the talent of The Heartache, “Ghost Ship” is the highlight here and a bare moment that memorializes the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, not far from Benitez's home of San Francisco. It's an acoustic guitar driven and melancholic, and it really embraces the depth of the tragedy.

While most of the album follows very close to traditional country, “Whiskey Makes Me Love You” is a fun rockabilly offering with breezy melodies and “Nora Went Down The Mountain” is a bluegrass tune that's as warm as the rest of the listen, bringing in some of the strongest musicianship to the final track.

One might think with the often heavy subject matter that this would be a draining listen, but it's actually a very pleasant, soothing venture with an authentic feel. Benitez and company aren't afraid to bring in Cajun and Mexican influences, giving them a unique dynamic in the area of classic country, and the storytelling is just as top notch as the music.

If you only buy one country album this year, make it this.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2018 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Copperhead Records, and is used for informational purposes only.