In addition to his tremendous songwriting prowess, Mark Kozelek's interest in fascinating subject matter has earned him a huge cult following. Since forming Sun Kil Moon in 2002, the Bay Area-via-Ohio folk-rocker has worked around themes of loss and mortality. His creativity behind the mic and acoustic guitar has earned Kozelek a certain prolific aura, especially among fellow artists, drawing partners like Will Oldham for occasional collaborations. Sun Kil Moon's sixth LP, Benji, came out earlier this month. It is a stark but satisfying piece of brittle, soul-emptying folk. Death lurks around most every corner of the record—and in Kozelek's overall work, for that matter—but it never overpowers the tenderness and childlike curiosity built into the songs. The rawness of his work is pure country, while the potency is reminiscent of early Springsteen. Kozelek's freshest work may support this the most, with his ever-crackling narrative pacing back and forth over bare-bones guitar riffs. Sun Kil Moon is not for the insensitive or impatient, but those who lend a careful ear will be stopped dead in their tracks.
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