by Doug MacRostie
What do you get when you mix one uber-creative individual and some quality time alone? Mason Jennings' new album "Blood of Man," that's what. With Mason playing all the instruments and doing the recording/production work, the album is a wonderfully raw and emotional ride through some very edgy and heartfelt material, and I'll be talking with Mason about it this Thursday at 6 on Centerstage MN.
What caught my attention first about "Blood of Man" was the electric guitar - it's a loud, distorted departure from "In the Ever," and while it's not the first time Mason has rocked hard - I think it's the most. The next thing that caught my attention was the violence and imagery; from coming home to find his family killed to putting a gun in the murderer's mouth in the song "Black Wind Blowing" - it's definitely a departure into a dark world. But it's still Mason, and the meanings and messages run deep. At masonjennings.com he says, "I wrote about how hard it is to be 34 and be a parent and sane and married and true and positive and yourself and a man and funny and a decent person and a not decent person and human and in love. I turned the music up so loud so often that my ears rang every night. I wrote about death, of course. I wrote about life. I wrote about pain and addiction. And I let it flow and left it raw. I worked fast and I let my heart lead."
The song that touched me the most was "The Field;" it brought tears to my eyes as he sang about a father losing his son in Iraq, "Since you were a child, we've built our lives around you, Now how am I suppose to live, in this world without you," with the breaking line "I don't want no victory, I just want you back."
There is a lot to be said about an album like this; Mason has opened himself up and let it all out - and the final product is a phenomenal and engaging collection of songs that cover everything from God and love to death and sorrow. Be sure to tune in Thursday night at 6 to hear Mason and I talk about "Blood of Man."
Also this week I've got new music from Dalia and The Pines, and some re-released material from Greg Brown and The Jayhawks. If you missed the in-studio session last week with The Brothers Burn Mountain you can listen to the audio or check out pictures.
Centerstage MN is Thursday evenings at 6, streaming live online at www.KAXE.org; or 91.7 Grand Rapids, 89.9 Brainerd and 105.3 Bemidji. All interviews are archived at www.KAXE.org and the show is rebroadcast Sunday mornings at 6.
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