Photos: Halle McFadden
An engrossing overarching narrative is at the core of everything rising singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin does. So much so, that it seems to seep into Benjamin's own life. The Phoenix-born, Los Angeles-based songwriter struck up a major deal at the age of 18 but soon realized It was not the golden road it appeared to be, being dropped by the label shortly after signing.
However, for an artist whose story had yet to reach its closing chapter, Benjamin persevered, performing parking lot shows outside of Troye Sivan and Shawn Mendes concerts. Today, Benjamin is in the midst of wrapping up his first headline tour, which sold-out every date far in advance, and is releasing a mixtape that solidifies the rising star as a master of weaving story into song.
Narrated For You is a brilliant demonstration of Benjamin's intrinsic gift for intertwining lyrical complexity with distinctive vocal phrasing. The 12-song collection is comprised of six previously released songs, including Benjamin's breakout single "Let Me Down Slowly," and six unheard songs. Despite having previously streamed half of the songs that make up Narrated For You on repeat, hearing them in this newfound context lends them a new light. For instance, the tale of childhood disillusionment that made "Death of a Hero" such a heart-breaking number in the first place becomes universal in scope when placed alongside "1994," a tale of growing up and coming to terms with the harsh realities of the world.
The interweaving threads that connect Benjamin's narrative arcs in Narrated For You run the gamut from deeply personal to universally-felt. And while Benjamin touches on everything from teenage heartbreak, childhood fears, to religious allegories, in his long-awaited debut mixtape there is one all-encompassing and ever-present constant. Benjamin is not so much a singer or an artist in the traditional sense of the word.
The young artist's voice carries with it a profound emotional weight, and the sparse instrumentation, usually made of hypnotic guitar-plucking, lends every one of his songs a sincere sense of tenderness. But what Narrated For You proves most is Benjamin's original claim of referring himself to as a "narrator." This a storied collection of a narrator capturing everything he witnesses - the trials, tribulations, and resounding joy that make life what is it and letting the world enjoy in that shared experience.
Listen to Narrated For You below: