Mason Summit – Absentee

Mason Summit – Absentee
When you are a young singer-songwriter and your first release has veterans such as Groover McDuffie (Rita Coolidge), Zander Schloss (The Circle Jerks) and Shawn Nourse (Dwight Yoakam) involved, you have to wonder if the music will live up to the expectations. With “Absentee” the answer is a resounding, “absolutely!” “What We’ll Become” launches the CD with one of those feel good alt-pop grooves that has both a catchy-ness and the right doses of tempered musical prowess. “Walk On Water” has a folkier groove that displays the range both emotionally and tonally of Mason’s wonderful voice. “Jesus Behind the Ice Cream Cart” has subtle punk influences without being too raucous, allowing you to enjoy the tongue-in-cheek lyrics. There are a lot of influences felt here; one moment you can think Lyle Lovett and the next Elvis Costello. Then suddenly there is an intensity ala Green Day. But it all works together marvelously with Mason Summit proving to be another entry level musician who is already quite a bit ahead of the curve. – MW


Jackson & the Wargonauts – The Summer’s Eve

Jackson & the Wargonauts – The Summer’s Eve
Doughnut Records
The debut full length CD from SoCal singer-songwriter Jackson Wargo is one of those ear-opening efforts that makes you realize this guy is already beyond many baby bands in his musical maturity and songwriting sensibilities. Musically, it is a mosaic ranging from pop-alt to folk with flavorings as diverse as blues, jazz, new-grass, and Americana. Jackson is one of those musical craftsman who can weave those diversities into a signature sound that is both hooky and thought-provoking. There is also a ten-piece bands of talented players backing him, but despite the huge lineup, there is not a feeling of business with too much music in any particular song. Instead, you have tasty flavoring involving banjo, horns, and sax weaved in with the more traditional rock instrumentation. The songs are wonderfully crafted with often humorous lyrics that also seem life reflective. Some of the stand-out tracks including the snappy lead romp “…but it Goes,” a scathing boogie-woogie folk ditty “Hooray for Hypocrites”, and the intricate and intense “The Summer’s Salt.” Jackson has the right combo of talent and a desire to push the envelope in subtle ways – watch out for this act. – MW


Tinsley Ellis – Midnight Blue

Tinsley Ellis – Midnight Blue
Heartfixer Music – HFM 1011
If the lead track “If The River Keeps Rising“ from legendary Atlanta bluesman Tinsley Ellis does not get its claws deep into you, you better check your pulse. The honest emotion on this smoky, swampy more traditional song shows you right out of the gate that fourteen albums into his storied career, Tinsley has not forgotten what the blues is all about. “Mouth Turn Dry” is a more uptempo shuffle with a wicked stomping guitar hook and gritty organ backdrop. “See No Harm” is a bare bones juke-joint ballad that perhaps best exemplifies Tinsley’s prodigious vocal and guitar prowess, backed with some wonderful piano work. His songwriting versatility is on display throughout the ten tracks; from the rocking “Harder to Find” with touches of psychedelia and a potent, burbling rhythm; to the down and dirty shuffle of “The Only Thing”; to the soul bearing mellow but nonetheless intense groove of “Kiss Of Death.” The lyrics range from heartbreakingly honest to tongue-in-cheek humor, and sometimes is just plain old good storytelling from first hand experience. In the fourth decade of his career, it would be too cliche to say Tinsley Ellis still has something in the tank. With “Midnight Blue,” Tinsley shows that his tank is full, and he has his foot on the accelerator with no pretenses of slowing down. And that is very good news for his fans and fans of the more recent bluesmasters’ generation.  – MW