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Jay Bennett 

The Beloved Enemy (Undertow)

Remembered as much for being a vital part of Wilco as for being unceremoniously dumped by Jeff Tweedy in the documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Jay Bennett has gone from feast to famine as quickly as anyone in recent memory. The Beloved Enemy, his second solo effort in less than a year, continues the weary, mostly acoustic countryish tone established on Bigger Than Blue. Always a great player and sincere, if sometimes overwrought, singer, Bennett releases the demons in songs like "Cruel but Honest Fortune" and "Fifty Cent Words." It's hard not to think this all autobiographical. "If I Forget How to Land" details rejection, remorse and bewilderment. "I Want You Back" could be a plea to an old lover or his once-elevated status. Either way, the songs drip with the kind of clarity often missing from his old bandmates. In trading a paycheck for his sanity, Bennett has created a beautiful expression of loss, a testament to the creative power of being down and out.

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September 23, 2020

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