“Little Ways” By Mutual Benefit
Jordan Lee aka Mutual Benefit has today announced his new full-length Growing at the Edges, will arrive on October 6 via Transgressive. Along with the news, Mutual Benefit has shared a Vidhu Kota directed video for the lead-track, “Little Ways”
The title of his new album, Growing at the Edges, is many-layered. “I became interested in the unruly first signs of growth after a disaster, and the beautiful ways lives start to blur into each other through relationships,” Lee says. “Edges are where spaces are negotiated.”
First single “Little Ways” signposts a stunning introduction to the new collection; sonically expansive with country-adjacent influences occasionally poking through. The track acted as a cheerful reminder for Lee throughout the pandemic, helping him through times of uncertainty. Speaking about this first glimpse of Growing at the Edges, Lee says: “‘Little Ways’ came out of a period in my 30’s where acquaintances were buying houses and starting backyard gardens while I was still in a cramped Brooklyn apartment wondering if my life was stuck in place. I eventually found contentment through staying in the present moment and noticing how our inner and outer landscapes change a little each day and that it is our relationships that make a place meaningful.”
With Growing at the Edges, Lee brought in two crucial collaborators: his first-ever co-producer in multi-instrumentalist Gabe Birnbaum, of Brooklyn’s Wilder Maker, and violinist Concetta Abatte, who contributed string arrangements. The interplay of Birnbaum’s jazz and country riffs and Abbatte’s chamber folk arrangements leant Growing at the Edges an ensemble feel and an aliveness. With their vast musical vocabularies, Lee’s abstract ideas could be made concrete. Other collaborators included guitarist Jonnie Baker (Florist), vocalist Eva Goodman (Nighttime), standup bassist Nick Jost (Wilder Maker, Baroness), and drummer Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker, Sam Evian).
The album title, Growing at the Edges took on another dimension as Lee actualized his desire to grow his range as a songwriter, pianist, and collaborator. Written over the span of five years, the album took root with two artist residencies completed in 2019: one at a former watchtower in Northern Ireland where he was commissioned to compose a soundtrack, and another in Gainesville, Florida. Both allowed Lee time and space to experiment, to spontaneously explore, and to live inside his emergent songs.
As Lee’s skills solidified, so, too, did the convictions of his lyrics. Growing at the Edges contains a political tow that, though never didactic, is unmistakable. “There’s still quite a bit of searching,” he says. “In fact, a central theme of this album is that it’s okay, at any age, to search your core beliefs and figure out if you might be fundamentally wrong about something. A lot of the lyrics in my previous albums were questions, and I think I ventured out and made a couple more statements on this one.” Books like Mushroom at the End of The World by Anna Tsing, and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass were among his influences.
Growing at the Edges
1. Growing at the Edges
2. Remembering a Dream
3. Beginner’s Heart
5. Untying a Knot
6. Season of Flame
7. Wasteland Companions
8. Winter Sun, Cloudless Sky
9. Little Ways
10. Signal to Bloom
Pre-order Growing at the Edges by Mutual Benefit HERE
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