I’ll avoid comparisons to Bright Eyes when talking about Willy Mason, though words and phrases like “melancholic,” “soulful yet seemingly bored,” “roots rock Americana” and “barely old enough to shave” could possibly apply to both. Willy Mason is about 22 but he sounds like he could be 55, with the history to back it up, based on his repertoire of personal disasters, as heard in “When the River Moves On.” Nothing necessarily new here: life at home sucks, so is it time to hold on or time to go? But the song is delivered with such smooth motion that you roll on along with it. Look for more of the same on Mason’s second full-length, If the Ocean Gets Rough, available now.
Clay’s posting of this A.I.R., (and his direct mention of the French Band) got me thinking about when I first listened to Air. If you take one of Chicago’s Green Line el trains west out of downtown in the early evening in spring, right as things start to thaw, you’ll see a bunch of old watertowers on the tops of warehouses silhouetted in a huge, wide blue sky, and they look like trees about to bud out and bloom in the warmth you’ve been waiting for and know is coming. That’s what they looked like to me, at least. And if you listen to Moon Safari, Air’s 1998 release, for the first time while admiring the watertowers, “La Femme D’Argent,” the first track, will sound cool and fresh and full of hope. In fact, it will sound that way forever, in my experience. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed the pretty, soothing grooves offered up by this French duo; “Once Upon a Time” apprears on their latest release, Pocket Symphony, due out in about a week.