While Mutual Benefit, the chosen stage moniker of Jordan Lee, may not be a particularly rock n’ roll name, his recent full-length debut Love’s Crushing Diamond is far more appropriately named. Glimmering and beguiling with an apparent simplicity that belies its complexity, Lee’s music is a reverie inducing blend of Americana with percussive and melodic influences from world music. Think Abigail Washburn with a proclivity for prolonged daydreaming. After self-releasing a number of EP’s and mini-albums with varying lineups on his Kasette Klub label (all available digitally over at his Bandcamp), Lee signed with fledgling record co. Other Music to release the Love’s Crushing Diamond LP and has resulted in a steadily growing universal wave of following and recognition since it landed.
Lee’s musical pursuits have lead him from his Columbus, Ohio hometown through to Austin, Boston and New York, and this wanderlust comes through in the meandering character of his music, especially on ‘”Let’s Play” / Statue Of A Man’. It does not come at you head on so much as it sprawls out in all directions, gradually unfolding into an indelibly complete soundscape of disparate elements weaved together. While Mutual Benefit is ostensibly a musical unit with Lee as the only constant and a revolving door personnel policy that allows for limitless collaboration (and LCD’s long personnel list suggests a lot of collaboration), the balanced and singular sound that is carved from these sounds, melodies and cacophonies shows that Lee has a steady auteuring hand. But really, at its core this is grand, dreamy pop indebted to the joyful potential of making music. Mutual Benefit may not immediately grab your attention, but if you give the music your attention you will slip into it and never wish to resurface.
Love’s Crushing Diamond is available now through Other Music/Fat Possum.