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The son of immigrant parents from Cuba and Austria, guitarist Benji Kaplan has thus far made his name with original music that combines the Central European and Latin American music of his family with the New York sounds he’s absorbed growing up. For his sixth album Something Here Inside, however, he’s making his first foray into classic pre-rock songwriting. Performing solo on his custom nylon string guitar, Kaplan doesn’t turn over rocks looking for obscure gems. He goes straight for the acknowledged classics: Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and “The Song is You,” the Gershwins’ “But Not For Me,” Rodgers and Hart’s “With a Song in My Heart,” Lerner & Loewe’s “If Ever I Would Leave You,” and three songs from the catalog of the mighty Cole Porter: “So in Love,” “Easy to Love,” and “Anything Goes.” Kaplan’s fingerstyle playing betrays the twin influences of classical training and his fondness for Brazilian music, with busy arrangements sure to delight guitar nerds. But it’s the emotional touch he brings to these performances that makes them stand out – Kaplan clearly cares about these songs a great deal, and puts that love into his playing. Perfect for the Saturday night cool down, or Sunday morning coffee, or anytime, really, Something Here Inside is a warm love letter to the Great American Songbook.
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