Alternative guru grandson is keeping provocative and sensational topics like war, politics, mental health, and the state of the world front and centre with his second studio album I Love You, I’m Trying. Packing with evocative narratives and high-energy tracks, I can guarantee this album will revitalise your core with passion for justice and compassion for your neighbour – this is your personal invitation to become a grandkid.
Album: I Love You, I’m Trying
Label: Fueled by Ramen
Release Date: 5 May 2023
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Jordan Benjamin, the 30-year-old American-Canadian singer, songwriter, and rapper, is the heart and soul behind the persona and presence known by many as grandson. Supported by guitarist Leo and drummer Tobias, these three men produce musical (and lyrical) genius that you cannot resist moving to when they perform. Jordan started releasing music in 2016 with several singles including Bury Me Face Down, which currently has over 70 million plays on Spotify. His most popular single Blood // Water, released in 2018, has over 626 million plays. With such early and massive popularity, the signs were clear that grandson not only had a message that deserved to be heard by many, it was one that wanted to be heard, and resonated with millions around the world.
His talents haven’t gone unnoticed in the music scene, either. He’s featured on Mike Shinoda’s Running from My Shadow, collaborated with Kesha and Travis Barker for Drop Dead, released a single with Two Feet called Until I Come Home, as well as contributed to Rain (featuring Idris Elba) and Oh No!!!, both of which feature in The Suicide Squad film (2021). He was also the supporting act in 2022 for Avril Lavigne’s Bite Me tour and Imagine Dragons’ Mercury World tour.
(grandson performing at The Powerstation in Auckland, New Zealand, 30 January 2024. Photo credit: Doug Peters)
Jordan has previously said he “wanted to pay homage to bands like Tool and System of a Down” who are “known for their unpredictable time signatures but bring 808s and hip-top into it”. This is how he described Drones which was the first released single from this punchy album. Drones directly comments on the ever-threatening presence of war, government surveillance, and how we lull ourselves into calmness with an unsettling comparisons:
Drones, up in the sky look like paper kites
Bombs like up the night burn like fireflies
Tell me one good lie so I can sleep at night
Hurt me, one more time, I wanna feel alive
This is furthered in When the Bomb Goes:
I’m isolated and overstimulated at the same time
Struggling to make sense of these thoughts trapped in my mind
It’s all coming to a head in my head, I could explode
I’m running out of options
And then the bomb goes
Political issues such as war and gun violence are topics he is very passionate about, and aren’t the only ones he addresses in this album. He gets deeper into problematic family dynamics and their individual demons that affect those around them in Something To Hide:
Mother was the life of the party
Bottle of white wine for dinner
Father had a little box with a razor blade
To cut up a painkiller
Sister had an eating disorder
All of her clothes didn’t fit her any more
And I made a best friend
Out of the skeleton in the closet
What struck me, however, was the slowed down, emotional, and remorseful track Heather which tells the story of a person dear to him who is no longer with us. This song is beautiful and heartbreaking from beginning to end, but here’s a sample with some lyrics that struck a chord deep within myself:
Messaged me, I don’t reply
I wish I knew it was goodbye
Singin’ to a crowded room
Saved a seat, I looked for you
I made it to your hometown
Guess I’m on my own now
I wish I got to save you
I wouldn’t be here without you
Across this album, I would have to say some of my favourites (see: songs you should listen to) are easily Something To Hide, Drones, and When the Bomb Goes. Heather of course has a special place in my heart too.
I had the delightful privilege of seeing grandson perform in Auckland, New Zealand recently. As a fan of his for only a couple of years now, he drew a humble but dedicated crowd to The Powerstation on January 30. His stage presence, energy, and crowd control was fantastic to experience. His setlist featured 19 songs from I Love You, I’m Trying, his 2020 debut album Death Of An Optimist, and singles dating back to 2016 when it all began. When he performed Heather, he asked for all the lights to be turned off and for the crowd to create a space for him. He then asked everyone to light the room with their phones and sang to the crowd eye-to-eye. It was a beautifully chilling and heart-wrenching moment to be a part of.
grandson is currently on tour. See the dates and get tickets here.
Listen to I Love You, I’m Trying on Spotify.