By JOHN DALY
Benjamin Dean Wilson works both sides of microphone. On his new album The Smartest Person in the Room he performs and produces a work that is both old school and modern at the same time. It’s also a tongue-in-cheek study of life where the lessons are for keeps.
He’s basically doing it all himself. The Tulsa-based filmmaker turned musician wrote, produced and performed his new album, The Smartest Person in the Room. He recorded it in analog using a Tascam 1/2-inch tape deck, which in non-techie terms amounts to doing it the “old school” way.
Does the recording have additional depth because of it? On some levels yes, but everything today depends on how the listener is taking in the content. If the listener has a transistor radio, no matter how rich and full the sounds are recorded, it will sound like a transistor radio.
This album offers a different structure with each track telling stories, blending “talkin’ blues” style with musical theater or film.
For the purist it’s probably off-putting but if you have a sense of humor and you like the music of people like Jonathan Richman in his pre-“Something About Mary” days, then you’ll get this.
Wilson had a career in the film industry before music evolved into his front-burner passion. He worked as a camera assistant on commercials. He then made short 16-millimeter films before turning to music. His first album is Small Talk.
Release Name: The Smartest Person in the Room
Label: Independent Producer: Benjamin Dean Wilson
The Rundown on The Smartest Person:
On “The Smartest Person in the Room,” it’s as if a country bumpkin has a second thought on the meaning of life. It’s a fun country-like tone with an upbeat approach. “Won’t Say It Again” is like Bob Dylan in a soap opera, this song expresses the feelings of someone who really needs an escape, but who picks the wrong places to go. “A Difficult Decision For Ronny Giovanni” is like Randy Newman does disco with a 1950s hi hat and toy piano. Is Ronny Giovanni a loose guy or doing it for the money? “Ridgemore Hotel” is a fun Americana adventure about a guy who has some run-ins along the road.
“Mr. Paranoid, Lizzy, and Her Family,” a great illustration of a split personality with paranoia free of charge, as Wilson cleverly uses sound to illustrate a point. “Vitamin Supplements,” is a fun song about selling you stuff to add to your life.
Musicians: Benjamin Dean Wilson: guitars, piano, keyboards, bass, drums, harmonica, violin, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, organ, percussion, bells, etc. Maria Grigoryeva: Fiddle on “The Smartest Person in the Room”