Inconvenient Truths

[Caldo Verde-2014]

Although it’s Paul McCartney he mentions in the breathtaking “Micheline”, Mark Kozelek has finally has made his Plastic Ono Band record: nakedly autobiographical—albeit with names changed in certain cases—Benji features true stories of death in his family; the sad, tragic outcomes of friends and neighbors; his musical and sexual awakening; reflections on growing up during the ‘70s and ‘80s; and a respective tribute to each of his parents, all told point blank with little adornment or artifice. 

Arguably, the best way to describe Benji is to equate it to a diary set to music. But where this could’ve easily turned into an embarrassing example of an hour’s worth of navel gazing, Kozelek’s tales feel as familiar as a shared experience. And the stripped down, mostly acoustic instrumentation and stark, yet vivid production manage to evoke a panoramic backdrop to his most honest record yet. 

Highlights: “Carissa”, “I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love”, “Pray for Newton”, and the aforementioned “Micheline”.