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Beloved Enemy, The

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
Jay Bennett was, by all accounts, one of the key architects of the eclectic and gloriously shambolic sound of Wilco's formative albums Being There, Summerteeth, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and a listen to Bennett's second proper solo album, The Beloved Enemy, shows he still knows how to conjure up the same ambience in the studio. However, The Beloved Enemy also makes it pretty clear just how much Jeff Tweedy brings to the picture in Wilco -- songs, structures, focus, clarity, and a firm sense of direction, among other things. Bennett's melodies and the spare but deep-focused arrangements on The Beloved Enemy testify to the man's considerable gifts in the studio, but most of these tunes have a hard time resolving themselves musically, and as a lyricist his work often doesn't hit the mark (with "I Want You Back" and "It Might Have Looked Like We Were Dancing" as notable exceptions). And Bennett's shaky, nicotine-scarred voice wears out its welcome fairly quickly, though it's certainly effective in short bursts. There's a rickety beauty and tied-together charm in much of The Beloved Enemy, and it's not at all difficult to imagine Bennett making great albums with any number of people, from Will Oldham to Sam Phillips. But its many flaws and sadly empty feel also make it clear this guy is at his best when he has a collaborator, which is where this set falls conspicuously short. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi