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Boneclouds

Mason Jennings

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Album Review

There was some concern among fans that after singer/songwriter Mason Jennings became the first artist to be signed to Glacial Pace, an Epic imprint run by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, he would succumb to major-label over-production temptations. The Minnesotan, however, assured everyone that the increased funding and advertising wouldn't compromise any of his artistic integrity. For the most part, Jennings, in his Epic debut, Boneclouds, stays true to his musical vision — for the most part, because there are some noticeable changes. For example, the rough, organic feel that many of his previous albums had (even those that also featured a band) is replaced with smoother, reverby pianos and guitars and vocal harmonies. It's not an overpowering difference, but it's definitely there. And he also chooses to experiment a bit stylistically. "Some Say I'm Not" sounds like something the White Stripes would do if Jack White decided to play an acoustic guitar and explore Middle Eastern chants, and it's a little out of character for Jennings, though it still works. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the keyboard-synth number, "Where the Sun Had Been," a new wave-meets-Mick Jagger-meets-David Gray piece that, while it's not necessarily bad, is such a departure from what Jennings has done that it's almost shocking, and certainly confusing. Despite these digressions (even the addition of Bad Plus drummer Dave King just brings a nice, slightly funkier element to the music), the rest of Boneclouds is pretty close to what Jennings is and always has been. There are pretty, folky melodies over strummed and picked guitars and soothing piano chords, and insightful, reflective lyrics about love and life. He's always been an honest writer, and he doesn't change anything here, admitting his doubts about himself and organized religion, and freely expressing his emotions about those he cares for. "Moon Sailing on the Water," which features his wife, Amy, on background vocals, is soft and bittersweet; "Jackson Square" finds the singer in top storytelling form; and even the slightly campy "If You Ain't Got Love" has a gentle, catchy chorus that comes across as sincere. There are a few missteps in Boneclouds, but it seems that Jennings has made the jump into major-label territory relatively smoothly, preserving his individuality and showing off his talent while also benefiting from the resources Brock and company could offer him.

Biography

Born: 1975 in Honolulu, HI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Mason Jennings blends the personal insights of a poet, the political broadsides of a protest singer, and the broad musical eclecticism of a jazz musician with a rock & roller's passion. The result made him one of the most talked-about new artists on the acoustic music scene and earned him a loyal cult following, as he moved over 30,000 copies...
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Boneclouds, Mason Jennings
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