The first fifteen seconds of this disc I spent waiting for Bruce Springsteen’s raspy voice to kick in. The heavy beat, the chugging guitar that leads to a tinkling of piano as the pace picks up, and then…
It sure sounds like Bruce singing too. Quite a surprise for a German youngster (Till Bennewitz is 22 years young) to sound so old, and so American too. The American sound is partly down to flying to the Big Apple in 2011 where an EP was put together that caught a lot of ears attentions.
Four years down the line and here is the first full-length disc,which sounds a whole lot like Springsteen but surprisingly, instead of those Stateside dudes the E-Street Band the young German is musically in the hands of an Englishman with Aynsley Lister producing and a band including Brit King-King member Wayne Proctor on drums and Dutchman Bob Fridzema on keyboards. So how come this all sounds so American?
If you caught Till Bennewitz supporting King King at the Harmonie in Bonn then you will have no idea what this CD sounds like – His was a short set more reminiscent of Elvis with his acoustic guitar. There’s no doubt this is a Rock n Roll platter from the off though. No doubt either about it’s heritage – the main character in ‘Henry Boy’ goes down to the creek instead of the river, but Bruce is in the fabric of this and pretty much every song on ‘Meeting in the Night’, with the title track particularly reminiscent of ‘Blinded by the Light’.
For young music fans who think Springsteen is a ‘BOF’ Bennewitz might well prove to be a good alternative though, and this will be welcome on a lot of car journeys I’m sure. It’s also worth a bit of attention for the finely tuned lyrics that, like the voice, seem to come from a man three times this guy’s age. Tales of drive-in queens and gamblers in backstreets. Of men and women looking for some meaning in their lives. Of leaving town and disappearing in the night to escape state troopers and broken dreams. Sounds familiar, and it is familiar. But great to hear just the same.
Chris Aldridge does a good job even if he isn’t Clarence Clemons. Wayne Proctor is rock solid; and where Bennewitz ends and Lister begins on guitar is not documented. Bennewitz does have a mighty musical weapon here though in the shape of Bob Fridzema – who really is is at the top of his game on this disc. I love his plaintive piano tone on ‘Highway Pete’ and his Wurlitzer sound on ‘Downtown Train’ which seems to name-check half of America. My favourite track here is ‘Old Tattoos’ which leans less on Bruce and more on Bryan, as in Adams.
Musical similarities aside, if we’re talking just about the music, and hey that’s what matters at days end right?, then there is a lot to like on ‘Meeting in the Night’ and with his youthful Presley looks and fine musicians backing him, Till Bennewitz has a lot going for him. If the musicians who go out on tour are as good as those on this CD (a tall order, we’re talking about Wayne Proctor and Bob Fridzema here) and if he can use Springsteen and Bryan Adams more as motivation and less as a complete blueprints for the music then the sky really could be the limit.