Hearing Willy Mason for the first time reminded me of the fact that simplicity often contains the most perfect beauty. The act of reviewing this album has served as my introduction to this man and his music. The first connection I made was to Smog, but only due to the fact that Willy has a baritone sort of similar to Billy Callahan. From a songwriting standpoint, the two men deliver in different ways.
It was actually an acoustic version of the title track that I found on Youtube while searching for a viable means of perusing the music on this release. The result was haunting. A very stripped down guitar part and Willy’s baritone, one of those moments as a listener wherein your breathing slows down and your entire conscious focus is intertwined with the music. The version of Carry On I heard was from a 2010 e.p. named So Long Baby Shoes, and I find myself preferring it to the album version, which is still beautiful, with much fuller production on the guitar track and the inclusion of a cello part- but somehow, the e.p. version is more haunting.
The album traverses some very varied ground, moving through upbeat, slightly experimental songs like I’ve Got Gold and engaging atmospheric stuff like Renegade Fugitive, but my favorite aspect of Willy as a songwriter is in the acoustic songwriter department. That said, everything on this album works in one way or another- because of his ability to create magic with just his voice and an acoustic. What once was old is new again.