Mutual Benefit's debut will steal your heart

Mutual Benefit's debut will steal your heart

In an age of torrential information, rare is the frisson of discovery.

It's increasingly tough to get a skin-tingling sense of wonder, of chancing upon something so luminescent and untethered to trends.

A few debut albums have had that transformative effect on me.

I remember being walloped by the passion of Montreal alt-rockers Arcade Fire's 2004 debut Funeral and the spectral honesty of Wisconsin indie-folk troubadour Bon Iver's 2007 debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

And now, another record has come out of nowhere to steal my heart: Love's Crushing Diamond, the proper debut by Jordan Lee, a peripatetic American based in Brooklyn.

Going by a humble moniker Mutual Benefit, Lee recorded these songs on the road, intending the album initially to be available only on cassettes.

Excellent word-of-mouth means Love's Crushing Diamond will soon be available in multiple formats - for now, it's available on iTunes.

The music recalls folkish Sufjan Stevens; the hushed moments of the late indie rocker Elliott Smith; and in the way instruments and voice unite in a seemingly artless manner, reminds one of the San Franciscan band Vetiver's 2006 album To Find Me Gone, specifically its opening track Been So Long.

The first track, Strong River, shimmers into life, chimes and percussion stirring from dream. Lee's voice, too, is a creature of wonder. Kiwi bird-shy, it chirps.

The gentleness rivets.

Its exquisite beauty belies some tough human decisions one has to make.

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