How can you work under the moniker The Last Optimist and at the same time champion a sub-genre that some critics call ‘sad folk?’
Well, Boston artist, social activist, and entrepreneur Markus Belanger, who goes under such a moniker and loves his folk to be in that a heart-on-the-sleeve subgenre, seems to think that this can work just fine with a six-track EP with a title to match – this moment is gone.
Actually, with his Leonard Cohen/early Paul Simon – inclined songwriting, Belanger tries to tackle the heavy question of mental health challenges. And as he puts it, his mission is to ‘de-stigmatize mental health, to build community, and to pull behavioral health out of the darkness and into the light.’
Relying mainly on his vocals, and acoustic guitar, with occasional support from Sam McArthur on piano and guitar and PJ Donahue on drums, Belanger, presents his ideas on mental health issues and problems with both care and empathy, but also obvious knowledge of the problems people with mental health issues face not to be overly melodramatic nor condescending.
The concept might seem a bit heavy for some listeners, but Belanger handles the subject with care, both musically and lyrically, to make his music and lyrics actually very listenable and engaging. And, of course, he is dealing with a subject that needs everybody’s attention in these hard times.
The Last Optimist – ‘this moment is gone’ Review
On 'This Moment Is Gone,' The Last Optimist handles the issues of mental health with care.