This week I got to see Sun Kil Moon live at the RNCM in Manchester. Mark Kozeleck may get more press now for his outspoken attitude then his music but what can’t be denied is his talents as a lyricist and persona onstage. He oozed a confidence that only comes from years of live performance and over 2 hours took the audience through a history of his work in ways that were fresh and captivating. Keeping me on edge with a constant element of uncertainty and anarchism.
His previous album Benji was my album of the year and I have waxed lyrical about it on this blog before. With his newest album Universal Themes, Mark Kozeleck has taken his unique lyrical style of stripping away metaphor and simile from his songs and applied it to modern, almost immediate experiences. This Diary like style is applied across all elements of the album from its composition to its arrangement. It is hit and miss but when it does hit it packs a punch of brutal honesty that manages to summarise the experience of human existence unparalleled in any music I have heard before.
When I first heard Birds of films I was shocked by one verse. The song tracks his experience on the set of a film in switzerland and manges to cover both the mundane and the remarkable. But when he talks about his experiences of taking a woman out to a bar one evening, and flirting with the idea of cheating on his girlfriend before deciding against it. I felt like I was intruding on something too personal to be out there for public consumption.
Yet It’s these moments in all his work that show a mirror up to our existence. They show the fragility of our emotions and the randomness of our experiences. This isn’t an exaggeration of what it is to be a human like most music, It’s the truth and I find that captivating.
The fact that I can write so much about Mark Kozeleck’s work is a clear indication of what I think about him. He’s a true artist, someone who has found their own niche in folk and rock music, and over his career has developed it in new and varied directions. He’s flawed and has his weaknesses that may come across badly in some articles about him but these are the imperfections of being human. They are part of who he is and how he expresses himself and when he does that through music it can lead to the most personal musical experiences I have ever heard: