Album Review: Willy Mason - Carry On

16 January 2013 | 6:32 pm | Rick Bryant

It is well-written and splendidly crafted, and Mason’s gentle touch gives it an abundance of life.

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With renowned producer Dan Carey at the helm, who has worked with Bat For Lashes and Hot Chip among others, US folk troubadour Willy Mason has upped the stakes on his third record, Carry On. With a seasoned voice that belies his youth, there's a fragility in his delivery that imbues most tracks with a sense of desolation that's hard to escape. It's no bad thing, though – there's more heart and soul here than anything Mumford & Sons, who he was recently here to support, have ever put forward, and the quality of the songwriting is first class. Moreover, it evidences profound development since his debut some seven years ago.

Despite the higher calibre production afforded by Carey, there is still a rustic edge to Carry On that suits the album's sparse nature. What Is This is languid and mournful, and beautifully mixed as mere hints of electronic beats wash through the guitars that carry the track. In fits and starts the tone of the record lifts considerably, such as it does on the snappy I Got Gold, which recalls the recent work of Iron & Wine, but the melancholic tone ultimately reigns supreme. Talk Me Down is an excellent examination of the intrinsically-linked emotions of people in relationships and rolls along with great energy, while Restless Fugitive throbs along gently, all desert haze and simmering heat. Ultimately, despite the browbeaten milieu that characterises the lion's share of Carry On, it isn't an album that is in any way depressing or deflating. It is well-written and splendidly crafted, and Mason's gentle touch gives it an abundance of life.