Mason Brown,
When Humans Walked the Earth
(Round Shining, 2008)

Sadly, I can provide little background on this intriguingly titled album by Mason Brown. But then again, why not let the music speak -- and speak eloquently it does.

Unusually, When Humans Walked the Earth opens with an instrumental, "Big Liza Jane/Frosty Noon." This sets a tone of excellent performance. The traditional "Bright Sunny South" follows, with Brown vocalizing. From the opening cello through to the end, "Will You Go to Flanders" impressed me.

The true heart of real folk music is represented by a wonderful rendition of "I Hate the Capitalist System." The lyrics are beautifully counterpointed by the waltz-time music. Mason next shows his guitar skills to great effect on "Bully for All/Saint Patrick's Day." His songwriting skills are then showcased on the beautifully composed "Brownie's Lament." The background to the title is revealed on the title track.

"Lord Franklin" is resurrected to great effect on the album. The song "Ode to Martin Luther King" is another wonderfully written and performed song that returns us to the strong storytelling roots of folk.

The album of 16 tracks closes as it opened with an instrumental offering. If anything, this slow piece is even better than many of the excellent songs and tunes that permeate this CD. "She" is a magical combination of bouzouki, cello and guitar that will leave the listener relaxed and uplifted.

The only thing missing from this album to make it perfect is a lyric sheet.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Nicky Rossiter

28 March 2009

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