Lyrics can make or break a record. Great lyrics can elevate an otherwise great album in to something astonishing. Mark Kozelek a.k.a. Sun Kil Moon does just this in his new album Benji. He transforms a collection of songs into poetry about the importance and significance of life. Using death as his central theme he opens his heart , we feel his emotion. Each song feels so honest, whether he is singing about the death of his second cousin or the loneliness of his fathers best friend. There are no metaphors here, the songs gradually unfold until we understand the whole tale. The story is not difficult to follow but it feels emotionally difficult to listen to. Even so this isn’t a depressing album, there is a lot of hope inter-weaved between the sadness.
Pray For Newtown came about after a fan sent Mark a letter asking him to pray for Newtown after the shootings. As he sings on the song ‘I ain’t one to pray, but I’m one to sing and play…’. What follows is a beautiful ode to the devastation caused by killings such as these and how to media only serves to promote to killers.
‘I just arrived in Seoul, by way of Beijing.
I had an hour to myself in my hotel when I turned on the TV.
It was quite a thriller, CNN was recording the bat man killer.
His eyes were glazed like he was from Mars.
Yesterday he was no one, today he was a star.’
It would be unwise to only mention the lyrics on this record. The instrumentation fits perfectly with the subject matter, sometimes enhancing the mood, other times taking it to another plane entirely. This is an album that deserves to be listened to the whole way through to fully appreciate the work that has gone in to it. You won’t regret it, it’s truly beautiful.
Jim Wise is one of the most heart-wrenching stories I have ever heard.