Release Date: Dec 3, 2012
Record label: Polydor
Genre(s): Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Yes, you read that right: Willy Mason’s Carry On is a perfect record. Perfect — we wouldn’t change a note! Which was sort of a surprise, as the Martha’s Vineyard-based Mason had fallen off our radar, his previous outings filed away in the back of over-cluttered brains filled with too many recording artists to keep track of. But it only took about eight bars of “Carry On” before we were thinking ‘Damn, is this a young Leonard Cohen covering Mickey Newbury?’ and it only gets better from there.
Willy Mason always just seems to be about – supporting Mumfords here, doing some strange little show there – but recordings-wise, he’s some way off being prolific: this third album is also his first for five years. Lord knows what takes him so long, but whatever he does is never less than great, and these 11 songs are no exception. Yes, the country-boy-voiced lines about “pickup trucks” on single ‘I Got Gold’ are gonna annoy the hell out of some people, but Mason’s team-up with producer Dan Carey has resulted in some nicely modern, processed touches to his folk songs, ‘Painted Glass’ being especially beautiful.Hamish MacBain .
Willy Mason's decision to work with MIA producer Dan Carey on his third album might suggest a man still running scared of the "new Dylan" hype that blighted his early career. But Carry On sticks to familiar virtues; Mason's gravelly tones are set to rootsy guitars and Carey exercises a light touch, adding subtle ambient feints and a slight production sheen – edging the lovely Shadows in the Dark towards the middle of the road. That's no problem: Mason doesn't share the ascetic's fear of a sweetly turned chorus and there's already enough emotional depth to his storytelling without overplaying his ragged edges.
When the New York-born, folk- and blues-inspired songwriter Willy Mason began to turn heads in 2004, the acclaim he received was mainly for the confident, spine-tingling mission statement that was “Oxygen. ” Although his ramshackle, hastily recorded debut album, Where the Humans Eat, was a strong set, it was the album’s penultimate track that impressed most with its focused, countercultural message and masterfully simple arrangement of double-tracked vocal and guitar. Similarly, with Carry On -- Mason’s third album -- it’s the pared down, live-in-the-studio title track which makes an impact here.
Still only 28 Willy Mason is increasingly sounding the old soul. His third album, and first for new label Fiction, sees some of the idealism, along with many of the rough edges of his earlier records worked on like sanded wood. What’s left is smoother, warmer and perhaps a little less charming. It’s polished maple, as opposed to folksy whittling, and some may miss the wide-eyed wonder of his classic ‘Oxygen’.
Mason’s third album finds him exploring fresh sonic dimensions. Leonie Cooper 2012 With half a decade gone by since the release of the last album from 28-year-old Martha’s Vineyard crooner Willy Mason, it would have been reasonable to assume that – talented tyke though he was – he’d gone and given up on the music industry, trading in his guitar for a MacBook and switching his honeyed baritone for dreary shoptalk. Fortunately, it seems Mason has simply been experimenting with creative hibernation for the past five years, rather than sacking off songwriting for good.
Willy Mason’s strength lies in what other artists might consider weakness. It was his slow-paced, apathy-inducing drawl, idiosyncratic accompaniment and musical style which brought him to the something-folk foreground in 2005, but then he chose to abandon his hypnotic brand of social commentary for more common and slightly bland songwriting traits in his follow-up album, even teaming up with KT Tunstall at one point. We’d rather songs about flies reading Dostoevsky than Tunstall urging us to be strong, we all cried.‘Carry On’ does anything but that.