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The Last Optimist is the project of Massachusetts singer-songwriter Markus Belanger and his new EP This Moment Is Gone places a singular, crucial focus on mental health awareness. Upon first listen, the artist’s name would appear something of a misnomer as the music doesn’t sound clearly optimistic, but on closer inspection it is in a uniquely and bravely counterintuitive way. By being so open and honest with his mental health here, Belanger is subtly suggesting that the way to have hope is through facing the darkness head on, and although the music comes from an individual perspective, the intention is to create a community and present something relatable for anyone who experiences something similar.
This measured hopefulness is immediately presented on the opener “Let Go of This Breath” which carefully charts the rise and fall of a panic attack, and what saves the protagonist in the end is their own inner strength. Musically, there are elements in his style which are of traditional folk as evident on “Boy in a Well,” but there is also a finger picking style distinctively similar to Leonard Cohen. Ultimately, though, Belanger has carved out a niche with a unique delivery and down-to-earth lyricism that is entirely his own, and This Moment Is Gone is sure to help find comfort and solace for many listeners.
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