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Monday, July 27, 2009

Review: Benjamin R - The Other Side Of Nowhere

Benjamin R - The Other Side Of Nowhere
2009, Benjamin R

Robert Selvaggio plies his musical trade under the name Benjamin R, these days. The Florida native is a singer/songwriter who took a professional detour into the production booth after an Indie release he boarded got significant praise for its sound. One thing led to another and before he knew what was happening Selvaggio was producing projects for the likes of Jewel, Eagle Eye Cherry and Puddle Of Mudd. After seven years in production, Benjamin R decided to take a step back, build his own studio and work on his own material. Aside from an ill-fated snow boarding trip that ended in a broken wrist, Benjamin R worked tirelessly to produce The Other Side Of Nowhere, a collection of 11 of the many songs he's written over the years.

Benjamin R reminds me of an extremely mellow version of The Cars' Ric Ocasek crossed with late-career Tom Petty, in a mish-mash of slick geek pop crossed with grizzly Pop/Americana. The Other Side Of Nowhere makes a very slow start, not really hitting stride until the fifth song. Not Gonna Let You Go grabs the listener with a catchy Americana arrangement with distinctive Pop hooks. Benjamin R keeps it up with Fool Myself and its vaguely urgent emotional qualities. Time Is Running Out brings to mind some of George Harrison's more Pop-oriented Folk/Rock. Benjamin R hits the heights on I Don't Need This Anymore and This Time (I Hope You're Happy). The two songs could track the same relationship at different stages, with Benjamin R realizing he just can't stay in this relationship anymore in the former, and recapturing that realizing after falling off the relationship wagon some time later in This Time. Letter has a couple of awkward moments lyrically, but has a distinctive Celtic/British feel that will draw you in.

Benjamin R spent a lot of time producing music for others, knowing that an outsider can often find the hidden gems in music that the folks who write it and live with it can't always see. Like many producers he may not feel this applies to him, leading him to produce his own album. While Benjamin R is well-renowned behind the boards, a doctor should never treat himself and a producer should never self-produce his own solo-effort. There are some strong songs here (particularly the second half of the album), but the lack of creative tension leaves some of that potential in the studio instead of bring it out on The Other Side Of Nowhere. It's a decent album in its own right; I was just left with an impression that it could have been much more.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Benjamin R at You can purchase The Other Side Of Nowhere as either a CD or a download at

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