Benji, named for the lovable, Texas-lensed Seventies pooch, concerns itself with mortality, singer Mark Kozelek bearing witness to his own life and those who've passed through it. There's sex, drugs, crab cakes, and people you've never met and never will, including James Gandolfini and the children of Newtown, Conn., but their presence devastates nonetheless. With minimal instrumentation and backing vocals from outré folk stars like Will Oldham, Kozelek reflects on the people who've died and those whose passing is imminent. "My mother is 75 and one day she won't be here to hear me cry," Kozelek sings in "I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love," and the stark reality of the statement, followed by his dismay that he'll soon miss playing Scrabble and going on long walks with her is enough to reduce the listener – particularly if that listener is mother to a young son – to emotional rubble.
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