Willy Mason – Carry On
Willy Mason has good credentials. The son of folky parents, he was plucked from obscurity after his music was heard on a local radio station. He ended up on Conor Oberst’s record label and was christened the ‘new Dylan’. This is now his third outing and if classic Bobster is the comparison, then it’s a bit of let down. But that shouldn’t be the reference point. This is a Willy Mason album. There’s a basic rootsy underpinning, but this is no lo-fi bedroom offering. The songs are well crafted. The production values are strong. The instrumentation is very deliberate. And at just over 37 minutes it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome. On a couple of tracks, there’s barely more than just Willy and his guitar. These are the ones that stick in the mind the longest. ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’ is a quiet, reflective piece. “My mind is a nation with all of these divisions”, he sings, looking for some order. The title track is sparer still. It begins with the singer looking at a moth stuck in a lamp: “He doesn’t care from where it comes, He only knows he’s got to run, Toward the brightest promise in his eye, Now he’s circling to the ground, His wings have burned, he’s falling down”. Then, the attention turns to the moth-like singer himself. “Chasing dreams that end in pain, I’ve chased the sun, I’ve chased the rain, But nothing ever seemed to fill my cup”. The sound matches the lyrics. The phrasing matches the sentiment. There’s a good balance. On some of the other tracks, though, there’s perhaps a little too much sheen. The sounds a little too crafted. The instrumentation a touch too deliberate. In the end, perhaps because the album tries so hard to be authentic, it lacks a certain authenticity. A new Dylan? No. A new Willy Mason album? Most definitely. And in the dog days of November/December releases, that’s not a bad thing.