Mutual Benefit, Untying A KnotListen
New York-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Jordan Lee, aka Mutual Benefit has today shared his new single and the accompanying video, “Untying a Knot”. The track, which arrives with a video directed by Kai Macknight comes lifted from the forthcoming album, Growing at the Edges which is out via Transgressive on October 6. It follows earlier singles, “Little Ways” and ‘Wasteland Companions” which found support at Paste Magazine, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Uproxx, Under the Radar Magazine and more.
Alongside the new track, Mutual Benefit has announced bi-coastal release shows; Lodge Room, Los Angeles on October 25 and TV Eye, New York on November 14. These album release events will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the debut album, Love’s Crushing Diamond.
When discussing the new single, Lee says: “‘Untying a Knot’ was partially inspired by a tweet that said something like “normalize taking in new information and changing your perspective” and got me thinking about how difficult it is to clearly look at your own system of beliefs and make substantive changes to cause less harm. While there is currently a lot of focus toward “self-growth”, I wanted the song to instead reflect the process as an ongoing unlearning and untangling of myriad internal knots collected through time.”
For his new album Growing at the Edges, Lee brought in two crucial collaborators: his first-ever co-producer in multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Birnbaum, of Brooklyn’s Wilder Maker, and violinist Concetta Abbate, who contributed string arrangements. The interplay of Birnbaum’s jazz and country riffs and Abbate’s chamber folk arrangements leant Growing at the Edges a live ensemble feel. With their vast musical vocabularies, Lee’s abstract ideas were made concrete. Other collaborators include guitarist Jonnie Baker (Florist), vocalist Eva Goodman (Nighttime), standup bassist Nick Jost (Wilder Maker, Baroness), and drummer Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker, Sam Evian). 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 Lee was commissioned to compose a soundtrack, and another in Gainesville, Florida, both allowing him time and space to experiment, to spontaneously explore, and to live inside his emergent songs.
Lee began writing Growing at the Edges at a creative crossroads, but it led to his most intentional, adventurous, and realized album, a world to enter. In writing, Lee was thinking about areas of life that capitalism deems to be valueless, how the reality of relentless extraction creates what are perceived to be wastelands. He explains:
“We’re at this point in time where there are so many ‘wastelands’ because value has been taken from so many places, so many art forms. I was thinking about the growth that’s happening right on the edge of that wasteland, and how that, to me, is the most beautiful and interesting area. That’s where important things are going to happen.”