Mutual Benefit, the music project of singer-songwriter Jordan Lee, opened for well known indie group Yowler on Friday, February 22nd at Philadelphia DIY hotspot Everybody Hits. Lee, coming off of his 2018 release Thunder Follows the Light, played alongside two of his constantly varying accompanying musicians to a large crowd that seemed to triple in size as the group’s performance began. Well known for his ethereal, introspective and nostalgic folk pieces, Lee opened with a drawn out sound check that seemed to morph into a piece of its own, with accompanying violin and guitar melding into conjoined harmony, a preview of the beauty to come. As the audience took their seats cross-legged on the stringlit cement floor, Lee and his companions let their instrumentation blend together to transition into their set.
Beginning with two pieces off of Thunder Follows the Light, ‘Storm Cellar Heart’ and ‘Written in Lightning,’ Lee set the tone of the show with deep violin draws and soft guitar riffs to contrasting lyrics that spoke of “changing horizons,” “the sky turning black,” and asking if it is “storms that help make the heart grow.” Lee’s commentary on the current state of political and environmental is quite apparent, and his backing orchestration hammer his points home in a dramatic and spiritually moving manner. In ‘New History,’ Lee speaks of cities whispering “of who we once were,” evoking a nostalgia for a much greater past as it unrecognizably slips by.
After a few more pieces from his most recent release, Lee moved on to play two very well known songs from 2014’s critically acclaimed debut LP, Love’s Crushing Diamond. ‘C.L. Rosarian,’ beginning with a rapidly shifting, swaying violin introduction, morphed into a forlorn love song telling the tale of ‘careless love,’ closing with a drawn out twirl between shimmering bells and violin. Lee finished off his short opening set with ‘Statue of a man,’ telling the tale of a lone traveler searching for meaning along his journey, lost in his stumbling, yet reminding us that even though “our bodies seem so temporary,” there’s “always love, whether tattered, strained, or torn…when you think there’s none to give.” Lee’s soft spoken, warm personality was continually evoked through his pieces and touched the hearts all who were gathered, creating an unrelenting feeling of togetherness, bringing to life the love he speaks of through his works.
Written in Lightning
Come to Pass
Statue of a Man