A note from Jamie Howison: Bob Bennett’s music has shown up the saint ben’s site more than once, and some of you will be wondering why. I mean seriously, this guy is clearly very, very fine; but what’s our connection? Well for one thing, Bob has a relationship with Winnipeg by virtue of his friendship with Steve Bell and Dave Zeglinski at Signpost Music. More personally, though, Bob’s 1991 album Songs From Bright Avenue – an album which wrestles with the reality of a broken marriage – really helped me to make sense of things when my first marriage collapsed in 1995. From that starting point, I’ve discovered that Bob has a real knack for offering music that helps make sense of things; both the good and wondrous and the bleak and painful.
A review by Steve Bell:
Originally published on Steve’s site, and used her with permission.
I just spent an hour listening intently to Bob Bennett’s new CD, Joy Deep as Sorrow.
Aaaaand… he does it once again: With characterisitic wit and disarming insight, our buddy Bob draws us into his own story which turns out to be our own, casting our vision beyond the “familiar lit surface of things, to walk though a door into the dark, to find what is there, ‘somewhere in the center.’” And at that dark center, the light of Bob’s vision ultimately alights on God’s Moveable Feast “staking out holy territory/ laying claims to the realms of glory.” It’s a terrific album.
Produced by Roy Salmond (producer of my Devotion album), Joy Deep as Sorrow is sonically warm – each song treated sparingly with Bob’s rich voice and familiar signature acoustic guitar at the center. Musicians include: Roy Salmond (on everything), Bill Bastone (bass), Gayle Salmond (vocals), Janaya Salmond (drums), Mike Janzen (Rhodes) and Bob Somma (electric guitar).
I won’t pretend to not be thrilled that Bob chose to rework one of my own songs for the collection (“Birth of a Song”) and am equally thrilled he included one of my favorites, “Broken Beauty,” a song he wrote with Jon Buller several years ago when a group of us songwriters were retreating together in B.C.
Bob’s reverence for Christ’s Church and her traditions is movingly evident in “Two or More”: “Oh the blessing of His congregation/ we cannot do alone what happens here.” And Bob’s masterful recasting of the 23rd Psalm (“God My Shepherd”) will likely become standard fare for Christian worship: “may Goodness and Mercy follow as friends / and be my companions ’till journey’s end.” I’d love to hear this sung congregationally, acapella… in unison.
Lighthearted humor peppers the project with the self-deprecating “Playing the Part of Me,” and the cutting but hilarious “Panhandled At The Western Wall”: “…some joker always feels the need to beg money for a purpose divine/ they never seem to learn that it’s never right to turn/ the “s” in scripture to a dollar sign.”
I hope the collection as a whole finds its rightful place in the devotional life of the wider community.