Sun Kil Moon, ‘Benji’


Aidin Vaziri | Whether with Sun Kil Moon or Red House Painters, his former band, Mark Kozelek has a way of making uncomfortable confessions sound unfathomably beautiful. In recent years, as his output has become more prolific, his words have become even more unguarded. On “Benji,” it’s mortality that weighs heaviest on the San Francisco singer-songwriter’s mind. Over the gentle, no-nonsense strumming of his nylon-string acoustic guitar, Kozelek, 47, sings in fine detail of family members whose lives came to horrific ends (“Carissa,” “Truck Driver”), the devastation he would feel if he lost others (“I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love,” “I Love My Dad”) and how deeply a news cycle that focuses on murder and mayhem affects his psyche (“Pray for Newton”). Even for longtime fans, it’s an album that makes for uneasy listening. But Kozelek intuitively knows when to pull back, closing the set with “Ben’s My Friend,” his darkly humorous (and thoroughly upbeat) meditation on hitting middle age at a Postal Service show at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre.