Stirring Tunes

The reedy, introspective musings of Willy Mason are full of folk charm that might be outlandish but is expertly constructed and pleasing to the ear. With the same laidback American drawl as The Boss (Bruce Springsteen), which is no bad thing but gives Mason a lot to live up to.

The piano-twinkling backed, searching 'We Can Be Strong' details struggles against adversities, drowning you in Willy Mason's deep vocals that evoke a primordial sense of unity in its chant of "We Can Be Strong". 'Simple Town' is another tune with a darker undercurrent and a swinging, brooding rhythm that climaxes in a bright chorus, "Let the thundercloud come rain on me", Mason beckons, and this chorus is very much like a rainbow that comes from the tormented verse. 'The End Of The Race' is a wonderful moving tale that rushes along on a hasty guitar current with some delightful lyrical additions, "You knew that this day was coming so why didn't you start running, your hands are now too full to get away, and this ain't going to stop til you are cured of all your wanting."

On the other hand, 'Save Myself' is a relatively upbeat number that doesn't show off the true depth of Mason's music as much as the more reflective and sorrowful numbers do. 'I Can't Sleep' is a perfect example with its rippling strings like a lullaby, but you soon realise that this is no smooth ride when Mason's raw vocals drag their way over the top of this buoyant orchestral backing; this is indeed a drifting tale of insomnia.

'When The River Moves On' harnesses the power of the deep South's countryside in its undulating bassline and gospel choir backing. Title track, 'If The Ocean Gets Rough' is the epitome of lazy easy listening; the creamy melody winds its way softly through your aural passages.

Willy Mason's earthy indie tunes have a spark that makes you sit up and listen and there are some fine numbers on this album that can't fail to attract new fans. Mason's tunes cover universal themes, often to stirring effect.