MASON JENNINGS, "Boneclouds"
Early this year, Minneapolis's Mason Jennings played for a jam-packed crowd at New York's Bowery Ballroom.Early this year, Minneapolis's Mason Jennings played for a jam-packed crowd at New York's Bowery Ballroom. Guys and gals alike hung on his every word and were entertained by the sensual heckling that made the singer/songwriter blush, as well as confront his bashfulness. The enthusiasm of the audience was positive proof to the underground following he apparently has cultivated.
"Boneclouds" is Jennings' jump to the majors after years of label hopping. Only 10 tracks long, it treads on familiar singer/songwriter fare about love and relationships. But he excels when he's not necessarily discussing these things, or at least when he's doing it in a more abstract way. At other times he evokes Dylan-esque yarn spinning, as on "If You Ain't Got Love" and his ode to New Orleans, "Jackson Square."
Jennings voice and song arrangements are quite charming but when you dig deeper, the whole thing becomes a bit questionable. There's a fine line between being genuine and being cheesy, and "Boneclouds" wrestles with this throughout. But his delivery covers it up well, overshadowing any alleged James Blunt-ish whininess that might be thrown his way. -- Michael D. Ayers