Saturday, 14 May 2016

Mutual Benefit 'Skip A Sinking Stone' (ALBUM REVIEW)


"...The closing half is more stark and thoughtful, perhaps a reflection of subsequent relationship difficulties, not to mention the effect of finding himself cocooned within the Big Apple where the latter material was put together".



Mutual Benefit’ consists of a fairly fluid musical ensemble, the brainchild of perpetual drifter Jordan Lee. The band also caused quite a stir with their first proper album ‘Love’s Crushing Diamond’ a couple of years back, despite being largely assembled from material recorded on the road.

Now signed to London’s Transgressive Records, follow-up album ‘Skip a Sinking Stone’ is full of woozy arrangements, soothing strings and lush harmonies, giving the listener a very pastoral and sometimes hymnal effect, perhaps containing echoes of a multitude of forbearers including Leisure Society, Beirut, Turin Brakes and CSNY.

We also get two distinct halves to ‘Skip a Sinking Stone’, the first a collective paean to Jordan’s new and exciting experiences on the tour following the previous album release, combined with a blossoming romance. The closing half is more stark and thoughtful, perhaps a reflection of subsequent relationship difficulties, not to mention the effect of finding himself cocooned within the Big Apple where the latter material was put together.


The six tracks in each half both start with scene setting instrumentals, for the first half that’s the dreamy ‘Madrugada’ drifting into the warm hearted and almost reverential ‘Skipping Stones’. ‘Closer Still’ is much more fragile yet still maintaining a blissful afterglow whilst ‘Lost Dreamers’ and ‘Getting Gone’ are both honey sweet without ever becoming twee. ’Not for Nothing’ finishes the front nine, as Jordan savours the happiness his current relationship has brought him, hoping it will last.

Part two kicks off with ‘Nocturne’, the sound of crickets on a summer’s evening clearly audible as austere strings introduce ‘Slow March’, the mood suddenly a little more uncertain. The hauntingly beautiful ‘Many Returns’ continues the elegiac trajectory to a somewhat darker place, continued by ‘City Sirens’ as ‘sorrow echoes through broken windows’. The heady ‘Fire Escape’ precedes the sensitive and Oriental tinged closing track ’The Hereafter’ leaving you philosophising about life’s ups and downs.

There is currently a single UK live date currently planned for London later this month, let’s hope more dates follow.

Nice work.

Words - Mike Price

Skip A Sinking Stone is released via Transgressive Records on May 20th
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