Erin Benjamin,
Monster in My Heart
(Baby Hugh Productions, 1998)

Monster in my Heart by Erin Benjamin is a series of stories of the heart and of life. And while several of the songs have a darker side to them, they are all well written and worth listening to.

The darkest song is "Amy," the story of a girl who is not coming home. Yet balanced with that is the dark hope that even though she was abandoned she is not alone. At the other end of the spectrum you have "Carry On," a song of hope and encouragement.

Some of the songs tell stories of where other people are in their lives and show pieces of the life journeys they are on. Both "She is a Beauty" and "Bittersweet" do this, and each tells a very different story. And then there are songs written as messages to loved ones, such as "Hang On to Me" and "I Didn't Think So."

The music is good. Erin Benjamin has a delightful, expressive voice and she plays an acoustic guitar on every song. The rest of the musicians in the band are also quite accomplished, adding a nice variety of instruments to Benjamin's sound. This ranges from the "standard" set of bass (Dick van Raadshoven), drums (Jim Boudreau), percussion (Art Avalos) and guitar (Jason Fowler) to the "extras" which include the oboe (Hazel Nevin Newton), Hammond B3 organ (Shawn Pitzel) and the cello (Dick van Raadshoven). And while most of the songs have a rock/pop sound, when she switches over to a different style it still works. The use of a flugelhorn (Kevin Turcotte) and tenor sax (Mike Murley) adds to the jazzy feel of "Too Young To Lose." And in "Going Strong" the harmonica (Mike Stevens) starts the song off nicely and the song keeps the blues touch right to the end.

All in all, Monster in my Heart is pretty good. And while it is not "must-listen" music, it is close enough, without a bad song to bring it down.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]