In The Last Boy Scout, an average Bruce Willis movie, there's a rather touching scene involving co-star Damon Wayans toasting 'Alex the accountant.' He explains to Willis that Alex is not his accountant, but his son, and what he could have been if had survived the complications surrounding his birth. Wayan's character, Jimmy Dix, says, 'Alex lived for seventeen minutes in the incubator. Fell asleep. Died before he woke up. He was born. He had time for one dream. And then he died.'
On his debut album Same Time Next Life, Adrian Benavides wrestles with his own personal tragedy, the still birth of his daughter, Valentina Grace. Within the lyrics of Exterior of the Heart, Benavides reflects, 'I getting older but I'll never get to see you grow up. I keep going over all the things that could have been if only you survived.' I can't begin to imagine the anguish, let alone expressing the emotions.
With Same Time Next Life Benavides attempts this very thing, a very emotional and personal expression. It's deep and brooding, melancholy and reflective in character. The music is progressive rock, with nods to metal, sometime invoking an industrial side as well. Sometimes it's heavy, dangerously chilling, stuff as the opening Impulse-Response demands as Benavides struggles with both the reasons why and personal guilt. It's hard to listen to, but immediately effective. But then somber moments arise within Reflections I & II, where the Benavides seems reach some understanding, some reconciliation, of this tragedy with his life and emotions. But we should not necessarily presume too much. At the beginning of the aforementioned Exterior of the Heart, he sings, 'Time does not heal it just eats away, erodes the exterior of the heart.' Harsh words, possibly, but honest words.
It's hard to say whether the strength of the album is the music or the emotional story which informs it. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd find the music all that interesting if it were not for the tragedy, and the emotions from it, that developed Same Time Next Life. In this case, one can't have one without the other. Same Time Next Life is a challenging listen.