Let’s be honest for just a second shall we. I get a lot of albums sent my way for review and I mean a lot. Most of them don’t do anything for me. They don’t always get happily placed in the CD player, but the ones that do usually get a three song stay of execution and generally if they last past that they get my full unadulterated attention. Sometimes I’m hooked from the first track, and that’s precisely what happened when I put the latest release by Virginia based Singer-Songwriter-Rocker Jason Masi on. The CD bursts to life with the fantastic rocked out sound and follows through with a wonderful sequence of songs, 11 of them to be exact. It twists and turns the way great albums should with a little bit of rock, a little bit of high octane driven rock-soul and a lot of harmonic goodness.
I suspect influenced largely by Crowded House, Things of Stone and Wood, and Paul Kelly, along with North American counterparts The Jayhawks, Barenaked Ladies, and the Counting Crows, Masi works to define a sound all his own and a dedication to each detail of the songwriting process. What’s constant is his attempt to find catchy melodies and happy instruments. This style of music could fit into several genres making it a great album for both Country and Rock fans. His last album “Life is Wonderful” is strong and so it’s pleasing to say that this album surprising surpasses my expectations.
I also really like to song line up – the way each song masterfully transitions through to the next creating much in the way of drama. So many bands and record labels get this basic skill so wrong. They fail to listen to the songs at their disposal and seemingly throw the album together without giving it any real thought. I’ve known people who work to formulas making sure that their best songs start and finish the album with the remaining tracks squeezed between in a slapdash fashion. That’s not the case with Masi’s music and his latest work in fact each track could probably survive on its own merits, but the album just flows so well. Masi could easily heralded as classic sounding rock but there is so much more to them. I hear Peter Adams, Tim Reynolds, Griffin House, Timmy Curran and even my favorite band Great Lake Swimmers. Some pieces stand out like the more appealing to a mass audience “People” and “Don’t Know Nothin’” but there is a deeper and sharper edge to songs like The Situation” and “That Summer” which is my favorite track on the CD by the way. The strategic interweaving of systemic melody and impressive vocal performances from Masi is a delight, but the solid rhythmical foundation of this band is essential to the artistic and commercial potential. The sound is that of the golden era of popular music in the Eighties and the Nineties when musicianship mattered! But the beauty of this record is the use of all mod-cons forcing Masi’s relevance into the modern world. Masi should achieve good support from radio and appears to be critical darlings in certain places like Virginia and all over the Radio, but I am left bemused how he is not yet a household name. It’s not a case of all the elements being present but the final product being missing as the songs, the musicianship, the production, and the performance all knit together beautifully-even brilliantly. Maybe I’m lucky enough to be in on the ground floor? Maybe things are just about to kick on for Masi? Whatever it is make sure you get hold of this CD called “Life is Wonderful” – it’s a must have and puts Masi in an elite league of genuine songwriters and it is a must listen.
Rating – 9/10
SOUNDCLOUD Link: https://soundcloud.com/jason-masi-songs