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The Sun, the Moon & the Sea

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Album Review

The Mason Brothers are indeed just that — James Mason on lead vocals and guitars, Christian Mason on additional guitars and occasional vocals, plus other performers here and there — and on their pleasant debut album The Sun, The Moon & the Sea the duo creates a series of songs that are more or less exactly what they're intended to be, contemplative modern folk with an overt nod back to smooth 1970s deliveries and country/rock fusion roots. James's singing is often little more than a calm whisper, and if anything, this helps place them more in the 21st century than in the previous one; there's that sense of understated conviction that defines (not always successfully) any number of sensitive guy singers and bandleaders currently out there. Similarly, his playing and that of his brother's is competent and enjoyable, if extremely unsurprising most of the time, though once or twice they do cook up something notable. On "Hands on Fire," the gentle addition of a few simple Rhodes piano notes adds a flowing richness to the performance, making it sound much more epic — though the actual solo itself, though equally simple, ends up disrupting that mood much less than the full band arrangement at the end. As that song indicates, they do have a good sense for a sudden twist — the opening "May You Rise" is winning enough but the conclusion, springing a full but not overpowering drum punch onto the listener, helps send it higher. Meantime, the production and sound of "In the Canyon" gives it the sensibility of a good field recording; slightly muffled and trebly without pushing it fully, a careful blend of past and present.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Taking equal inspiration from Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, and Pink Floyd, Mason Brothers are a contemporary roots band whose music bridges the gap between 1970s British folk and 21st century Americana. The band began as a partnership between Christian and James Mason, two Virginia-born brothers who grew up in Richmond and attended college at nearby University of Virginia. While studying English at UVA, James began laying the brickwork for a solo career, eventually releasing an album of textured folk...
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The Sun, the Moon & the Sea, Mason Brothers
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