Masbateño indie artist Russel brings comfort, assurance on ‘Lakbay’

Adulthood is a phase where you can’t stop asking yourself some questions on making decisions in life. There are a lot of uncertainties in this chaotic world without knowing who you can trust. Amidst it all, music plays a vital role in bringing joy and solace to everyone.

There are a lot of songs that depict the concept of adulthood, but there’s this one very underrated artist that caught my eye while scrolling through my social media feed. His name is Russel Jay Bentor, also known as “Russel,” a 26-year-old independent singer-songwriter from Masbate City.

Russel released his first-ever single ‘Lakbay’ on Good Friday, March 29. This song was first created during the COVID-19 lockdown, but it was officially released publicly this year. 

‘Lakbay’ is a simply-written short poem about sailing yourself to the next chapter. It has a feel-good and reassuring vibe that makes the listeners uplift their spirits in facing all the odds. The chord progression of the song is heavily inspired by other Pinoy troubadours like Johnoy Danao and the indie band Munimuni. The instruments played in the song have shared the same pattern like every modern or contemporary folk song ever. 

It is also a message to Russel’s past self. As a college student who graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was really a tough challenge for him to move on to the next chapter. However, he promised himself that it was time to go back home and start to write his own story. 

Years after the pandemic, Russel passed the licensure exam for architects. Despite his busy schedule at work, he always makes time to write more songs during his free time. 

While I’m listening to the entirety of the song, I feel like I’m listening to a soundtrack from a coming-of-age film, where the protagonist is leaving her home to start a new chapter in life. It also feels like a farewell message to my past self. His soothing voice gives us assurance with a hint of caution on making the right decision. 

Then, the first thing I also noticed is the album art that he used—it’s a clear and vast shore that has the same resemblance to some of Masbate’s own beaches. It represents the experience of every Masbateño while traveling across the ocean. 

The simplicity of its lyrics makes the song more fathomable and relatable. This young troubadour lets his listeners find their own interpretation of the song. This simple, well-written song can mean anything, but the message is clear—to move on and face the new reality.

As more indie artists rise, this underrated gem deserves to receive more love and recognition. Russel and his song symbolize his courage to express his emotions as well as the representation of his home province. He promised himself that he would make more songs focusing on societal issues and his own story in the future.

To listen more about ‘Lakbay,’ you can stream it on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music. I Meryl Julienne Macenas



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