Mason Jennings new album, Blood of Man, sounds like an amateur indie rocker trying to sound like Mason Jennings. The record is ambitious and slightly expansive to Jennings canon, but lacking the pure, honest sound of his previous work.
The title track stands out. The song is representative of the album as a whole. It begins as a typical Jennings tune with a homespun feel and then builds into a romping finish of noisy instruments and Jennings singing, “Ocean mother, ocean child/Are you mine or are you wild/Are you calling for the blood of man.” It appears to be about a ghost contemplating death and what it meant to be alive. But with such cryptic, poetic lyrics, it is best to let the song speak for itself.
The album is cohesive with a garage rock feel throughout. The scratchy recording and sloppy musicianship creates an atmosphere of static fuzz. And Jennings is able to make that static fuzz sparkle. As always, he constructs some beautiful melodies.
Hands down, the highlight track is “Tourist,” a heartfelt acoustic song with an existential slant. It is a song about questioning how one really knows who one wants to be. The line, “That tourist in every heart sees what it wants to see,” sums the song up perfectly.
Jennings gets points for going beyond his traditional sound. Although the album does have heart, it falls short. At times, Jennings seems uninspired, like he is writing music just to write music. There are some great songs here, but in between those great songs lies mediocrity livened only by hints of melody. I give the album three out of five stars.
Stand out tracks: Tourist, Black Wind Blowing, Blood of Man