Mason Jennings – Always Been

Mason Jennings folk/pop musician released his first solo album in 1998.  Since that time the folk/pop musician has come to develop a style of simple melodies driven just by his singing and acoustic guitar and intimate lyrics.  For his latest album, Jennings secluded himself in a remote cabin to write and record demos all winter long.  He emerged with about 30 songs and the basis for Always Been.  He recorded the album with what he calls “dream collaborations” as he enlisted help from Neil Young’s drummer Chard Cromwell and Iris Dement.

With few exceptions, the songs on this album are catchy, acoustic-driven, well-crafted folk/pop tunes.  “Lonely Street” and “Rainboots” are both upbeat gems.  The centerpiece of the album is “Wilderness,” which finds Jennings in a much more introspective mode.  Though these are definitely pop songs the production is very straightforward and so Jennings’ roots-y tendencies as well as his grittier side are occasionally allowed to show.

Always Been is another solid entry in what is becoming (if not already is) a very strong discography for Mason Jennings.  Prolific though he is – putting out an album every year or so – Jennings has proven that he still has some new ideas.  Always Been is an eminently listenable album.  It’s the kind of album that, if you’re not careful, you’ll accidentally listen to twice all the way through without stopping.  At only 38, it will be exciting for us to see what comes next from this talented musician.

-Bentley Holt