The Mark of Excellence

Mutual Benefit

Love’s Crushing Diamond

> > Oct 07 2013

Mutual Benefit - Love’s Crushing Diamond
By Whitney TamJust as the lineup of Jordan Lee's Mutual Benefit project is amorphous and ever-changing — sometimes appearing solo and other times as a collective with friends joining him on stage — so Love's Crushing Diamond is always in flux; it's a body of water with a million tiny river veins, constantly flowing. Musically and lyrically, Lee has crafted an album rife with hope and wild optimism for life and love and human nature in the face of today's commonplace complacency: "We weren't made to be this way/ we weren't made to be afraid," he sings on "Golden Wake" after the protagonist quits his job post waterside revelation.

The lush layering of chimes, strings, and woodwinds, along with the steady homemade percussion, wash in and out like the tide alongside each track, stressing movement and the idea that, like "the river only knows to carry on" ("Strong Swimmer"), we must also keep on keeping on despite life's challenges. "Advanced Falconry" is a standout, with its sweeping strings and joyous banjo outfitting the track with a set of wings to take flight, much like infatuation stirs up a burgeoning and powerful lightness of being.

Though the album is cohesive in its content, it is also entirely composed of contradictions: it is minimalist yet lush, hopeful yet rooted in a stark and sometimes grim reality. The beauty of Love's Crushing Diamond lies in Lee's aspiration to remain wide-eyed and wondrous despite life's strong tides, and takes shape in his ability to convey it in such an organic and honest manner. "There's always love/ when you think there's none to give," he sings assuredly, as if to confirm the innate goodness of Man on "'Let's Play' / Statue of a Man"), and you believe him. After all, isn't that what we all hope to be true?
(Other Music)
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