Phoenix, AZ singer/songwriter Alec Benjamin spins a haunting Western parable on "Outrunning Karma."

We are always living in the present, unless you've somehow discovered the secret of time travel. Even then, the distant past or far-off future would still just be NOW once you arrived. With that in mind, it's tempting to think that nothing matters, that the past doesn't exist and the future will never come. Like Oprah once said "I want every day to be a fresh start on expanding what is possible.” Unfortunately, as Donald Trump's Twitter feed reminds us pretty much every day, the past is right behind us, waiting in the shadows with fangs and bloody claws. The Piper will always be paid. The devil always get his dues. At the end of the day, there's no “Outrunning Karma.”



A lot of folks don't realize that, in this world of immediate-gratification and shortened attention spans. We are always rushing into the future, to the next big shiny thing. Our short memories and attention spans mean we might fall into potholes we dug ourselves. Sometimes, we sow the seeds of our own destruction.

Alec Benjamin couches this in a wild western metaphor, spinning an outlaw ballad over a tapestry of 21st century post-electronica.

"Outrunning Karma"'s skeleton could've been written in 1818, 1918, or 2018. Simple, delicate fingerpicked guitar summons to mind the dusty plains of Colorado, tumbleweed rolling towards the distant inkstain of the Rocky Mountains. This landscape is phantasmagorical, hallucinatory, with this devilish charming outlaw acting as a pied piper to a wave of insects and pupae. He pulls a gym bag full of ten dismembered human hearts. He thinks he can outrun his past, but it's right behind him, waiting to drag him to hell.

This poetic dimension is painted with a subtle atmosphere of modern electronics - a hypnotic hip-hop heartbeat and a simple, solid bassline, all softly glowing within a nimbus of reverb.

Alec Benjamin is wise beyond his years. It's a little disorienting to hear such weathered sentiments and timeless songwriting delivered with a voice as light as an angel. The subject of "Outrunning Karma" may have his coming to him, but Benjamin's only got good things to store. We Are: The Guard sincerely believe that good things happen to good people and great musicians. Considering he hasn't even released a full-length album yet, it should be staggering to see as this cherub grows his wings! 


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.