Jay Bennett & Edward Burch

By Peter Hemminger

There’s no shortage of pop songwriting groups. Even within the pop spectrum of alt-country, there are the Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, and Lambchop, just to name a few. Jay Bennett’s collaboration with Edward Burch can’t be written straight off, even if it is just a splinter of a splinter (Bennett left Wilco, which was formed when Jeff Tweedy left Tupelo).

There’s no denying the songwriting and production skills of the multi-instrumentalist, The Palace at 4 am (Part I) makes Bennett’s contribution to pre-YHF Wilco all the more obvious.

What prevents the album from being memorable are the vocals from the two collaborators. They’re strong enough to carry the tune, but too generic to lend the album even a modicum of a distinguishable personality.

With the glut of pop-oriented alt-country already on the market, unfortunately good songwriting isn’t always enough. The album warrants a few listens but won’t likely make many top ten lists, or even last all that long in most CD changers.

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