Mason – Midnight Road
Mason’s Midnight Road is the first release from an Arizona trio that sounds like a band built to last. There’s a combustible chemistry between these three players that revitalizes their love for blues rock into a kinetic, intelligent, and physically engaging musical experience. The ten songs on this debut release eschew executing the typical turns of this style in predictable ways and, instead, focus on allowing their personality to emerge from the music with great success. Mason are clearly well versed in the genre’s demands and stylistic flourishes and it’s a testament to their talents that they are able to delve so deeply into its sound without ever allowing themselves to disappear in a sea of clichés. Midnight Road is a fantastic debut by any definition of the term and the band’s musical and songwriting talents alike are the stuff that long careers are made of.
“Rockstar Paperboy” has a romping freedom that should be the envy of every blues outfit working today. Mason are a three piece capable of invoking the blues through the prism of their own personality without ever losing their strong connection to the form. Andre Gressieux’s drumming is a big reason why the album is successful as a whole, but he excels on this track specifically thanks to his ability to hold an otherwise wild arrangement together with both feel and precise drumming. “Shackle Caster” is completely in the blues rock vein with more of an emphasis on the rock side of things, but Mason comes by those bluesy accents quite honestly without ever seeming too forced. Outright blues is much more the order of the day on the song “I Bet You Know” and there’s a slightly caustic edge emerging from the music that gives the songwriting some added bite. Acosta’s lead guitar work here is one of the album’s overall highlights.
“She’s a Little” has a vocal arrangement that sets it apart from the other tracks on Midnight Road, but the song never sounds too out of place. Mason achieves an impressively full sound despite being a three piece and there’s little question that this number will have a lot of live appeal. Mason has clearly written these songs with an eye towards their eventual stage performances and these are sure-fire crowd pleasers. “The Way You Used To” has a strong relation to the earlier “I Bet You Know”, but it’s a much cleaner blues attack than the earlier number while still invoking all of the needed emotion. The bluesy warmth of “Fast Train” is vaguely reminiscent of prime Allman Brothers without ever lapsing into imitation and it dredges up all the required feel and swing from a great quasi-shuffle the band never sounds uncomfortable with. “Quicksand Man” is the album’s final all-out blast of rough and ready blues rock while the title and concluding song, “Midnight Road”, closes the band’s debut with a performance full of color, deft musical touches, and an immense amount of soul thanks to what might be Acosta’s best and most varied singing performance on this album.
9 out of 10 stars