“My Old, Familiar Friend” is unlike any experience Brendan Benson has had in his 13-year recording career.
With three previous releases, the Royal Oak native established himself as a respected singer-songwriter at a cult level, known by the pop congnescenti but not the masses. Then he formed The Raconteurs with friends Jack White of the White Stripes and the rhythm section of The Greenhornes, had a hit single (“Steady as She Goes”) and two successful albums.
Now, he finds bit a bit different to go back to being a solo artist.
“Mostly, it’s exciting,” says Benson, 38, who released “My Old, Familiar Friend” earlier this week. “Beyond that, I don’t know. It’s usually easier for me to see those things in retrospect. Ask me in a year and I’ll be able to give you a bunch of examples of how it affected me.
“But now, it’s too soon to tell. And I’m not thinking about it, either. I’m not even asking myself that question. I don’t know if I’m more popular or not. It’s the furthest thing from my mind, really.”
Some of the songs on “Familiar Friend” date back five years, according to Benson, and some were written on the road with The Raconteurs. He had about 40 songs ready when it came time to record the album and acknowledges being “overwhelmed” until producer Gil Norton signed on.
“He was the guy who kind of sorted it all out and made sense of it, which I’m very thankful for,” notes Benson, who moved to Nashville, Tenn., about five years ago after deciding Detroit, and especially his east side neighborhood, was “unsafe.” “And he really whipped me through it. It was hard work but I feel like we got the best out of what I had, for sure.”
Brendan Benson and Annie Rossi perform Saturday (Aug. 22) at the Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor. Cover is $15. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Call (734) 996-8555 or visit www.blindpigmusic.com.
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