While I attended high school, I shared a piano teacher with Will Bennett, keyboardist of The White Ravens. Once, as I sat at my family’s black Wurlizter about to show off my practice progress, I recall her mentioning how she reconsidered her move from Michigan in order to instruct him longer because he was "something special." At the time, he had started to compose hybrid classical-rock pieces. My curiosity to hear his melodic musings quickly spiked.
When I moved to downtown Ann Arbor from Saline, I lost touch with many of my old neighbors, including the Bennetts. A few years later, during my senior year of college, I began to notice the group’s fliers on lamp posts around Liberty Street. I quickly Googled their name and stumbled upon a YouTube video of The White Ravens performing the song, “In My Pocket,” at an Ypsilanti festival. I instantly noticed an intelligent, witty maturity beginning to mold Amy Bennett’s bright and throaty voice.
The siblings have collaborated with a few drummers throughout their existence, notably Liberty Devitto, who played with Billy Joel for thirty years. Vince Russo (also of The Appleseed Collective) currently plays drums.
Will Bennet’s zealous keyboard playing has been compared to Ben Folds. Moments arise when he nearly bangs the keyboard in exclamatory passion.
Billy Joel’s melodic style comprises a sizable part of the alkaline in The White Ravens’ sound battery. On that note, they perform a killer cover of “Crocodile Rock,” by Joel’s comrade, Elton John.
Amy Bennett, bassist and lead vocalist, derives humorous lyric ideas from just about anything and everything. From web-comics to Douglas Adams science fiction – if one can name it, she’ll write about it. A University of Michigan science student by day and musician by night, she iterates how the scientific method influences her songwriting because she learns “how things happen through analyzing the world,” and derives lyrical inspiration from this. She proudly highlights her vast experience working in a lab examining rat brains – perhaps inspiration for a future song?
A “School of Rock” type vibe seasons The White Ravens’ earlier musical essence. “Mr. Schonke,” for instance, describes the siblings’ frustrating experience with a manipulative and uptight teacher who would act condescending. “My teacher is a dragon/ yeah, he’s always nagging/for me to do his dirty work./ He’d set me on fire/ if I tried to think higher,” the lyrics go. Incidentally, my brother had this teacher in school at some point, which adds to the humor for me.
“Tick Tock” utilizes an image of a wind-up parrot to symbolize a relationship and the necessity of one partner to take his or her turn "winding it up." "The gears and springs/ and the pulleys and strings/ and the wind-up parrot who squawks and sings/ will sleep until you twist their copper wings," it laments.
I’m eager to hear how Amy Bennett’s brainy musical musings develop as she acquires more life and academic experience.
Gargoyles and Weather Vanes, the White Ravens’ latest album (produced by Jim Diamond) is available for purchase on CD Baby. Check out the music video for “Sparks,” another song off the LP, below.