When Mason Jennings first released In the Ever, I couldn’t have been more disappointed. The album seemed forced and overproduced–it lacked all the personality that I felt made Mason Jennings so special. I even vowed never to give him my money again, unless I previewed his work prior to purchase. Well, I gave in to my longing for Mason and got my hands on Blood of Man.
Upon the first listen all the way through, I paused momentarily, trying to wrap my head around the record, almost confused. I came to the decision that this album seemed like a collection of really good demos. There was an evident rawness to the writing, and the recording (drums especially) that brought back a whole lot of that character that sparked the flame of fandom within me so long ago.
Sure, the first song sort of seems like Mason is channeling that Eddie Vedder character people are so into, but the rest of the album wears that warmth of his vocal inflection that makes his music seem so unique. Everything about Blood of Man seems completely natural and not forced. This is more Use Your Voice era Mason than it is anything else, and I’m frankly relieved to see him heading back to that hallowed ground.
That being said, there are some odd missteps here, and I don’t necessary see them as bad things, but just really unexpected moments. For instance, “Ain’t No Friend of Mine” appears like a sort of Dead Weather stomp with a splash of Mason. Even his vocals have a little hint of Mr. White. Still, the dude’s been putting out tunes, so you can’t blame him for trying something entirely new. Just be happy he seems to have steered far away from the land of Jack Johnson and other like-minded hacks.
What comes as a great surprise on this album is that Mason Jennings wraps it up perfectly by including some of his best efforts, as of late, on the end of the album. You won’t find a more fitting tune for resolving personal crisis than “Lonely Road.” And ending the entire record with “Blood of Man” shows how the simplest tunes are still the heart and soul of this singer/songwriter. It’s just he and a guitar, and I guess that’s the way it always seems like it should have been.
So it seems that Mason Jennings has come around full circle. He’s back to where he began, though with a bit of growth and maturity beneath his belt. It makes this a great addition to his entire catalogue. I’m glad I picked up Blood of Man.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/the-field-1.mp3]
Download: Mason Jennings – The Field [MP3]