If Marco Benevento had his way, his new album may have been named Leon, instead of Let It Slide, an homage to the album’s producer Leon Michels. Benevento and Michels met through west coast producer and sound man Richard Swift, who was supposed to mix Let It Slide. Swift, after whom Benevento named his 2014 recording Swift to recognize the amount of work the producer put in, passed away in July, 2018 before the album was mixed and things abruptly changed.
Michels – the first outside producer Benevento has used – temporarily moved to New York (where Benevento lives) to create the album.
Benevento said the pair “played tennis in the morning, worked on the album in the afternoon, and went back to being dads after (their) children got out of school at 3.”
With Let It Slide, Benevento and Michels officially completed the 180 (degree) turn from his earliest works such as Invisible Baby and Between the Needles and the Nightfall. Let It Slide is full of funky piano playing, mixed with great bass lines and Benevento’s vocals in all but one song. Benevento calls moving from instrumental songs to vocal based ones a “natural progression.”
The album starts with the first single and title track “Let it Slide.” The mix of the drum beat with Benevento’s vocals and keyboard hook set the stage for a spacy groove that increases and decreases tempo throughout the album. Bassist Karina Rykman’s background vocals really stand out and mix perfectly with Benevento’s dialed in vocal tone. This is Rykman’s first vocal contribution to a Benevento record, and she adds a lot to the album’s title track as well as other songs throughout.
Benvento uses the term “Let it Slide” to represent everything is ok, to “go where the wind pushes us.” This is a lyrical theme that continues throughout the rest of the album.
“Solid Gold” turns down the speed but ups the spaciness, as Benevento and Rykman’s chorus of “I can say what I want to say to you. You can say what you want to say to me. I will do what you want to do tonight. Cause you are Solid Gold,” continues the conversation from the previous song.
The chill seems to warm up a bit in “Baby Don’t Make Me Wait” next, as Benevento sings “Baby Don’t Me Wait. I don’t wanna take a number. Baby don’t hesitate.”
Benevento says a Gaffiano club sandwich could describe the rest of the album. The top piece of bread is “Gaffiano #1,” a short piano interlude with a unique sound Benevento created by putting gaffer tape on the piano strings to mute the sound.
The meat of the top part of the sandwich starts with the album’s second single, “Say It’s All the Same.” Benevento sings “You’ll feel better I’ll just say. When you finally let it go,” in this whistle-filled upbeat song that should be in the touring rotation for a while.
“Humanz” is a standout song on and is the only instrumental on Let It Slide. This is also the most pure piano playing Benevento provides, which he once again calls a “natural progression.”
Benevento says the inspiration for his piano sound in Humanz came from the Ethiopiques albums, which feature a collection of Ethiopian singers and musicians in all types of genres. The piano beat mixed with the horns creates a great groove you could picture hearing as a score in Quentin Tarantino film.
“Gaffiano #2,” another short, muted piano interlude serves as the middle of the sandwich.
The catchy “Send It On a Rocket” offers a unique Benevento keyboard hook mixed with his layered vocals and bass and drum beats. Benevento again finds a great vocal tone to create the outer space feeling of the song.
With the emphatic line “No more kisses on your tongue,” “Lorraine” slows down with Benevento lyrically coming to the realization that whoever he’s been singing about is no longer on the same page as him.
“Oh Baby Can’t You See” gives Benevento another upbeat dance song, where you can almost visualize him jumping off his piano and into the crowd while playing this one live. After “Nature’s Change,” Benevento puts forth an intense vocal plea in “You Got Away.” You can feel his regret as he offers a high pitch plea to whomever he’s been singing to the entire album. “Now it’s time to hit the road. It’s all the same with me.”
“Gaffiano #3,” the bottom piece of the sandwich wraps up Let It Slide, with another quick piano piece.
While Benevento does see the lyrical connection to the songs throughout Let It Slide, he insists it wasn’t planned that way. Benevento said “Wow! I never realized that. I guess I need to listen a little more to my own music.”
Benevento will take bassist Rykman and drummer Andy Borger with him on tour this fall behind Let It Slide. Concerts begin in the Northeast in October before moving to the Midwest in November and the West coast in December. The album gives him plenty of new options to add to his setlists for the tour.
Benevento said that another advantage of putting out a vocal-based album is it allows him to even out the number off instrumental and vocal songs he performs at each show.
While success is different for any musician. Benevento said just making an album with Michel that’s a tribute to their friend Richard Swift “is success enough for Let It Slide.
With another batch of timeless tunes to add to his live rotation and continued vocal confidence and growth, Benevento should have a lot more success than that.
Click here to pre-order Let It Slide and check out all of Benevento’s tour dates here.