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Benjamin Dean Wilson: Small Talk

Track List

>Sadie and the Fat Man
>So Cool
>End of Never Again
>My Wife
>Rick, I Tick Tock...

Album Notes

Benjamin Dean Wilson's auspicious debut, Small Talk, is an offbeat and polarizing pop platter that bears the hallmarks of a potential cult favorite. Soberly clad in a black turtleneck and unfussy mustache, Wilson gazes up from the album's cover like a high school drama teacher inviting the viewer to take its contents quite seriously. The album's intentionally vague press release describes Wilson as a cinema-obsessed math student from Tusla, Oklahoma whose musical influences include classical composers like Franz Schubert and Leos Janácek alongside Bob Dylan, Meat Loaf, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. What comes across on tape is a sort of dry-witted, Great Plains indie pop bard whose oddball character narratives channel bits of Stephin Merritt, Randy Newman, Jonathan Richman, and Adam Green, among others. Recorded to analog tape in a shed in Oklahoma and released by German label Tapete Records, Small Talk's six tracks unwind slowly over light retro-pop arrangements that range from doo wop and country, to folk and '70s easy listening. In a casual, half-spoken delivery, Wilson -- a young man -- spouts wry slice-of-life tales of aging, middle-aged yearning, and the pains and complexities of adulthood. His surprisingly relatable characters aren't necessarily down-and-out, but stymied by what life seems to be delivering them. At first blush, it all seems a little too ironic and cleverly designed, but repeated listens reveal a beating heart behind the smirk. Several of the tracks exceed the seven-minute mark, and the closer, "Rick, I Tick Tock.," doubles that length as Wilson unspools his eccentric narratives in elaborate detail. Small Talk certainly isn't for everyone, but Wilson has both craft and vision enough to make it work for him. ~ Timothy Monger


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