Having written most of his three previous albums alone, Steve Mason decided upon a complete change of approach to his forth solo record (under his own name) About The Light. Recorded at studios in London and his new home of Brighton, Mason enlisted renowned producer Stephen Street to helm the desk. Explaining his new approach to both writing and recording the album. Steve said;
“I decided with this album that I wanted to get my live band involved at every stage because I wanted to capture the energy that we produce when we play live shows, so this time the band and myself worked on a collection of songs over the course of last year,”
Kicking off which a brass tone that is slightly ominous, America Is Your Boyfriend soon has any air of darkness dispelled as the guitar grows and Mason’s vocal kicks in. A horn section that’s soulful but runs with a hint of the traditional, lifts the track high. By the time you’re two minutes deep into second track Rocket, its evident About The Light is a high watermark in both Mason’s songwriting and vocal performance. Stephen Street also deserves a mention in dispatches for this wonderfully produced track. Which rises and swirls with guitar and horns, carrying the backed vocals with a balance that’s delightful.
No Clue has a great guitar hook, as the pace gathers slightly in this guaranteed foot tapper. With the vocal tinged with the drive, passion and energy that few can convey as subtly as Steve Mason. As the album reaches the title track, you realize that to listen to this record in any other form than start to finish would be a travesty. With Mason and Street making a good case for Brighton becoming the new Muscle Shoals.
Fox On The Roof feels a little bit Floydy with an airy feel. While Stars Around My Heart forges elements of synth, soul and classic pop to achieve a sound that feels truly timeless. The straighter up rocker of Spanish Brigade has its muted chords drenched in horns. It has a directness to which a lot of Mason die-hards will be unaccustomed. Don’t Know Where slows the pace for a wonderful blues break before hand claps bring you into the tweed amp stomp of Walking Away From Love. Its gratifying to hear Mason sound like he’s having so much fun as he breaks it down into a great piano middle eight. The End is a fitting way to round off this record. With the refrain of ‘Don’t Fear The End’ as a spiraling trumpet marches us off a polyphonic cliff edge. Producer Stephen Street said of the process;
“Steve explained that he wanted to make this album with his band playing more ‘live’ than on some of his previous offerings and also to augment the songs with brass and female backing vocalists. I felt this approach of first stripping back the songs to a more ‘live’ feel to create more space for the more ‘soulful’ elements to breathe in was an interesting one and we got down to work!”
“When I listen to this album it feels and sounds like the first ‘legitimate’ record that I have ever made. It’s hard to explain but it sounds like a ‘real’ album. I think that is partly the production, the playing and the work that I did with the band for all those months in our rehearsal room on the South Coast,” Steve Says.
About The Light not only marks an evolution in Steve Mason’s sound and songwriting, but sounds like a marker where Mason is more at ease with himself and the world around him. A record that’s confident, positive and soulful, About The Light takes its place alongside Searching For The Young Soul Rebels as one of the finest British soul records ever.
About The Light is released on Double Six January 18th and can be ordered via Dom Mart HERE.
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