Skeptics say that familiarity breeds contempt. Obviously they’ve never heard Bennett Wilson Poole and their eponymous debut. A decided supergroup in their native Britain, the three principals have played integral roles in the UK Americana movement since the seeds were first sewn several decades ago with Poole’s once ignored, but now unforgotten outfit Starry Eyed and Laughing. Now a successful producer, Poole has joined forces with Danny Wilson, whose past credits include Grand Drive and Danny and the Champions of the World, and Robin Bennett, of the Dreaming Spires and Saint Etienne.
Not surprisingly then, the initial results of that union result in an album that clearly brings to mind the original incarnation of the Byrds, when the five original members — Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke — were still in the fold and soaring to new heights. Still, there’s a difference between emulation and imitation. The blend of voices, soaring harmonies, 12 string riffing and imaginative arrangements not only inform the music, but also provide this trio with distinction. Their melodies are far from a rehash of the Byrds’ bolder efforts or even their greatest hits. The songs ring with an immediacy and an instant embrace that finds such offerings as “Ask Me Anything,” “Wilson General Store,” “The Other Side of the Sky,” “Funny Guys,” and literally every other track on this dynamic debut a credit to both their credence and the obvious influences imbued herein. From the crack of drums that opens the aptly named lead-off track “Soon Enough,” to the final extended coda gracing the album’s haunting closer, the vaguely psychedelic “Lifeboat (Take a Picture of Yourself),” this is indeed an album for the ages, an indelible reminder of folk rock finesse with echoes of an earlier era and a bold promise for all future endeavors.
Suffice it to say, Bennett Wilson Poole is the real deal. Authentic Americana doesn’t get any more reverent, respectful or simply remarkable than this.