Is Less Actually Less?

The Acoustic Lighthouse Experiment
Scott Benningfield (Independent)

By Jim Conway

I guess when you get down to it, in musical circles, less sometimes means less complicated. Unless you're Scott Benningfield, then less means being more ambiguous. This collection of songs tends to invade the listener's subconscious, chipping away subliminal layer after subliminal layer with each playing.

Armed with an acoustic guitar and a throaty everyman voice, Benningfield offers a stripped-down view of his extremely personalized world in The Acoustic Lighthouse Experiment, where the listener is a fly on the wall witnessing these stylized coffee-house confessionals. Songs like "Give Me A Sign" are so clever, where the narrator tells his absentee lover that "I'm not going to lose my mind / Well, at least not tonight," even if the words never actually reach their intended target (i.e. his lover). "Be Strong" is sustained by a tinny vocal delivery which almost sounds as an inner voice, offering encouragement to an introverted soul who, perhaps, is lacking the self-confidence to go and live the life he knows he should live.

Despite some weaker cuts like "Forever," which gets bogged down by an over-used phrase like "I will always be there for you," Benningfield offers a kind of poor man's Lou Reed urban cool, especially on cuts like "Don't Be Mistaken," and, probably for the millionth time, proves that The Velvet Underground were probably the most influential but least financially successful group of the last century.

As are hundreds of artists who were probably not yet conceived during the 1960s, Benningfield is still doing music as performance art, on a guitar-oriented level like The Velvets. But, unlike Mr. Reed and Company, Benningfield's vision is truly his own world.

I don't know. Maybe less is less complicated.