Having introduced himself with a gorgeous acoustic version of this track earlier this year, the young Dutch singer-songwriter has now unveiled its masterly studio version. Produced in London by Jon McMullen, best known for his work with Wet Leg and Michael Kiwanuka, “The Deal Has Long Gone Down” will tingle the hairs on the back of your neck as it evokes the spirits of Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen.
A masterclass of technique and tone, Michael’s quietly defiant guitar playing and foreboding baritone vocal only serve to deepen the impression of a chilling song that looks out upon the prospect of looming environmental catastrophe and an uncertain future. As Benjamin says of single’s reflective subject matter:
“I guess it expresses my fears for the modern climate we all live in, a changing world in danger of moving towards something dark and despairing. When the fortune-teller at the crossroads loses belief, you know it’s tough times ahead.”
Staking his place as a young musician set to shake things up, Michael J. Benjamin‘s soul searching songs express a hard-won sense of authority: embracing the world with an engrossing, truth-seeking style of writing which belies his still-tender years. Like most other millennials, he grew up with the entire history of music readily available at the click of a mouse. He embraced himself in the heroes of old, immersing himself in the works of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Cash and Paul McCartney, before finding more modern realms of influence in the songbooks of Lana Del Rey, Weyes Blood and Jack Antonoff.
And while many of his musical favourites are American, Michael’s literary influences have a distinctly European flavour with Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud and Hugo all seeping into the way he looks at his art. His songs flourish in a self-made world of creeping dusk, ever-aware of the foreboding, Lynchian darkness which will inevitably follow.
The artist explains:
“I was born and raised in a nowhere town, stuck in a place you don’t want to be in: where there’s no sense of identity and where you don’t fit in. Music shaped my world from an early age.”
Of Dutch origin but raised in Sweden until the age of 16, Michael J. Benjamin spent much of his late teens and early twenties travelling around the UK. Playing guitar, piano and harmonica in small venues in Bristol, London and the Isle of Wight, Michael got his first big break in 2017 when he was invited by the Dutch National Ballet to provide music for “Two and Only”, a pas de deux performed by two male dancers. The piece was awarded Runner Up at the prestigious Prix Benois de la Danse at The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and was later performed with Michael’s accompaniment at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, in the presence of Bill Clinton, Elton John and Prince Harry.
Arriving as the first sample of a wider body of work being readied for release this Autumn, “The Deal Has Long Gone Down” is taken from Michael’s upcoming self-titled debut EP. Recorded in London, the new material was produced with Jon McMullen, best known for his work with indie sensations and four-time Brit Award-nominees Wet Leg.
Returning from a contemporary music festival in Rome, fans can catch Michael J. Benjamin performing live in the UK with a headline show at The Soundsniffer / Community Sessions at The Finsbury, London N4 on Sunday 2nd April. Tickets on sale now.
MICHAEL J BENJAMIN – 2023 LIVE DATES
2nd April – The Soundsniffer / Community Sessions – The Finsbury, London N4
MICHAEL J BENJAMIN – NEW SINGLE: “THE DEAL HAS LONG GONE DOWN”
OUT NOW, VIA RUBYWORKS
NEW EP – COMING THIS AUTUMN
FOR MORE INFORMATION