Steve Mason of the Beta Band recorded this album with Craig Potter, best known as the producer and chap on the keyboards for Elbow. The follow up to Mason's ‘double political concept album’ ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’ this is a more straightforward and accessible undertaking. Taking in influences from the re-invigorated deep house scene, pop, dub as well as folk it's central themes are optimism, joy and hope. Released on 180g Vinyl or digipak CD versions.
4/10 Clinton Staff review, 23 February 2016
Check your ears, check your ears this is NOT the new Ian Brown album. Neither is it the new Guy Garvey. For some reason Steve Mason has a lot more underground kudos than both put together but his music is often like a quite astonishingly dull amalgamation of both. It could be his background in the Beta Band but he gets away with large swathes of music that's rather fly-by-ear with the odd slither of inspiration.
This latest effort is produced by a guy from Elbow and is suitably watered down. Let's take say Marvin Gaye as a starter point, take any meaning, soul, realness, graininess out of the project and replace it with slick pro tools playing. Mason's songs aren't always awful. He saves 'Alive' from High Flying Birds tedium with a lovely chorus and opener 'Water Board' has some lively chord changes and 'To a Door' is very pretty but elsewhere it's soulless muso playing, unimaginative arrangements, interminable songs which seemed pre-programmed to go over the heads of anyone who actually listens to music. It sounds like an album made by someone on their lunch break or something Mason has put together while checking his email.
If the recent Guy Garvey album was a little too off kilter for your tastes then maybe try this. The musical equivalent of weak butterscotch Angel Delight. Possibly though, it is these blandishments which will catapult him to the kind of unfathomable success Elbow have achieved.
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