Mutual Benefit

Love’s Crushing Diamond

Other Music

Jan 13, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Somewhere along the line, Sufjan Stevens decided to give up his banjo and embrace the keyboard, Devendra Banhart got weirder than his sweet spot of "good weird," and Bonnie "Prince" Billy started appearing in rap videos. Here to pick up the (mostly despised) flag of neo/indie/freak (whatever your descriptor) folk stands Jordan Lee, who records as Mutual Benefit. His debut full-length, Love's Crushing Diamond, is chock-full of direct, emotional songs that seem at first glance familiar and simple, which belies the deep beauty and tricky balancing act of emotional-without-being-cloying that Lee walks expertly. "We weren't meant to be afraid," Lee warbles on "Golden Wake." "To look into her eyes/Will make a fool of me," he coos on "Advanced Falconry." "River doesn't know tomorrow/Rolls along with such simplicity," sighs the seven-minute capper "Strong Swimmer." These songs paddle along, but don't be fooledwhat you might initially mistake for easy listening and empty sentiments are revealed to be universal reminders that love is out there, death is sad, life goes on, and everything is going to be okay. Mutual Benefit isn't afraid to be hokey and direct, and in a music environment that can sometimes value cool detachment and perfection a little too much, music like this might be needed more than anyone knows. (www.mutualbenefit.bandcamp.com)

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