CD REVIEW: Mason Jennings "Blood Of Man"

Mason Jennings' latest album is by far his most interesting and unique to date. With six discs already under his belt, it comes as no surprise that Jennings would want to show off a different side, to keep the freshness in his music. He is known for his unique voice and vocal delivery, his outstanding songwriting, and his mellow folk sound, so it's certainly a departure to lay down the acoustic for an electric guitar and write some heavy rockers. "Ain't No Friend Of Mine," the debut single, is the hardest of the whole entire disc with crunchy guitars and a heavy vocal thump. The hardness in the sound doesn't always come from Mason's electric guitar. Sometimes the hard edge in the music is found within the lyrics. Many of the tracks have much less of a happy-go-lucky feel to them than in Jennings' previous work. Not since his second album has the lyrical content flirted this closely with darker, more negative topics, particularly the childhood memories in "Pittsburgh." "The Field" is an anti-war protest song, and possibly one of the best ever written. The theme of blood is all over the album, particularly in "Ain't No Friend Of Mine," "Black Wind Blowing," and "Sing Out." The true Mason Jennings comes through on tracks like "Sunlight" (a song that was released as a charity single over the summer) which follow along his standard formula and his acoustic sees the light of day on the title track which closes out the disc. There is a rawness and an organic feel to the collection. Mason played all the instruments as well as produced and recorded the album himself. He even left in all the feedback and little nuances that make the recording special, so the listener can hear is as it was meant to be. By far a true gem in the Mason Jennings arsenal, this album is one of his best. It will be interesting to see how the songs hold up and translate into his live arrangements. One thing is for sure, Mason Jennings can definitely rock! Who knew!?