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Brendan Benson might as well be referring to himself in the title of his excellent fourth solo outing, My Old, Familiar Friend, because for all the adoring critics and fans care, the beloved singer-songwriter embodies that endearment. However, as sweetly as Benson croons, the album’s lyrics largely amount to a melodic tongue lashing underneath those sandy-blond locks and pristine production by Gil Norton. Yeah, this Friend is a bitter pill in places, but Benson ingratiates himself naturally with his gentlemanly persona and well-meaning stance. Underpinnings of romance gone awry (“A Whole Lot Better,” “Feel Like Taking You Home,” “You Make a Fool Out of Me,” “Misery”), and life lessons (“Gonowhere,” “Lesson Learned,” “Borrow”) take center stage on another Grade ‘A’ power-pop masterstroke from a man too long in the shadows of famous friends, Detroit melancholia and revolving doors. Perhaps now Benson will get the attention he so deserves with a Friend that fits like a glove no matter who puts it on. (ATO Records) –Carrie Alison