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A Man and His Silvertone

Ray Mason

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Album Review

Ray Mason is one of those musicians who seems to have always been around: serving as the opening act for any number of headliners (particularly in his home region of New England), releasing a handful of well-received indie albums, contributing to numerous compilations. For something like four decades he's done this while evading the fame game — Mason's still out there because there's nothing he'd rather do. A Man and His Silvertone is his tenth album overall, and while it's not the first to be credited solely to him, as opposed to the Ray Mason Band, it is his first true solo album, just Mason and his steady companion, his 1965 Silvertone guitar. Portrayed on the cover, it's a machine that's been through the wars but still maintains its dignity and charm, sounding mighty fine on these 11 tunes. These songs — some reprised from previous releases, Mason's followers will be happy to note — uphold the upbeat nature of his previous work: After all, angst and ponderousness are hardly the bailiwick of a guy who writes songs with titles like "Monkey in a Convent." Although the trusty ol' Silvertone takes center stage here, it's still in a supporting role to its master. This isn't a "guitar" album, per se. Mason is no slick virtuoso out to impress with speed and flash. He's about clean, unpretentious guitar playing that rides the line between minimalist and majestic, and an Everyman-esque songwriting style that doesn't require a degree in philosophy. Mason's self-penned tunes, like "Water Off a Duck" and "They Don't Make Records Like That Anymore," sung in a voice that'll never win any prizes but sure sounds real, are never going to require much more out of the listener than the willingness to maintain a sunny disposition for a while. Nothin' wrong with that.

Biography

Born: 1982

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The quirky pop/rock outfit Ray Mason Band has been together since 1982, led by guitarist Mason (whose retro Silvertone guitar has become a sort of trademark). Also included in the band is second guitarist Tom Shea, bassist Stephen Desaulniers, and drummer Frank Marsh, who have been releasing albums steadily since the mid-'90s — 1995's Between Blue and Okay, 1996's Missyouville, 1998's Old Souls Day, 1999's Castanets, and 2000's When the Clown's Work Is Over (in addition, Mason contributed songwriting...
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A Man and His Silvertone, Ray Mason
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