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Home / Articles / Entertainment / Music /  Mason Reed falls prey to his own pretension
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Thursday, May 6,2010

Mason Reed falls prey to his own pretension

By Eli Boonin-Vail

The most on-target aspect of hippie-blues rocker Mason Reed’s latest EP, You Can’t Come Back From Heaven, is the CD packaging. The cover features a slightly dazed Reed looking resolutely through his aviators and out the windshield of a blurry automobile. Sun-diluted photographs of roadsides reminiscent of Cool Hand Luke jumble together on the inside jacket. A string of beads with a feather hangs in front of a car window on the backside track listing. Overall, it’s a neatly packaged collection of overused pastiches on bohemian life, which makes it such an excellent representation of the album.

From the very start of You Can’t Come Back From Heaven, something just feels off. There’s a genuine attempt at profound bluesy pondering throughout the EP, but it’s offset by a true lack of serious sound that hinders the whole thing.

The most obvious culprit for this lack of seriousness is Reed’s almost novel approach to vocals. His overly abrasive voice, best exemplified when he sings “This could be your life” on the final track, “Six Shallow Women,” makes the whole EP feel almost like a caricature of Willie Nelson.

Just like his voice, the instruments of Reed’s work are laughably ruffian. The guitar tries so hard to be a tough guy on songs like “Poor Old Man” that it has no sense of shame or sensibility. When it does manage to control itself in a gentle fashion, the guitar contrasts starkly with Reed’s ever-scratching vocals.

The drums bang on practically the same riff incessantly throughout the album, pausing only briefly to take a slowly reflecting and smooth tone midway through on “Only Gonna Break Your Heart,” a good song ruined by foolish lyrics.

No matter the positives on some songs, there’s always some quality that compromises the total package. When Reed’s growling voice finally fits in with the sound, some other quality will swoop down and distract. When the drums manage to perform a subtle riff, it will be all for naught because of Reed’s aforementioned ridiculous vocals.

Reed’s music is ironic, really. He sings in constant defiance of conformity, but in the end he ends up trying so hard to be a rebel that his music can be neatly packaged and bundled with the rest of the music that sounds exactly like his. On the opener, “I Don’t Love Nobody,” Reed sings almost desperately that he truly doesn’t love anything but the road. He sounds as if he’s hopelessly trying to convince the listener that he really is the hardened rough man he says he is.

You Can’t Come Back From Heaven has such a predictable sound that listening to it feels almost like hearing the sound of stereotype. People have been replicating the biker vibe for long enough in music that the genre sounds as old and dried out as the road kill that the artists so constantly pass over on their genre, going nowhere.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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Hello Eli,


   I happen to stumble upon Mason Reed singing at a mutual friends house just jammy with other musicians  in LA and was blown away by his voice. His voice is truly distinctive! I had never met him before and was mesmerized by his natural talent and his distinctive voice. I google him and came upon your article on Boulder Weekly and I was truly surprise about what you had written about him. 

      Either you think he is truly talented and miss guided or  you think he is a pretentious wannabee. Either way your own pretentious writing made me feel like you were jealous of him or thought so highly of yourself to write an article like that. 

      Always remember when you write about somebody,  how it can effect their life in the future and what they are trying to achieve.. I know how hard artist try to do everything they can to make it in this industry. Karma is a bitch when it comes to throwing someone under the bus. I always say think before speaking and think before you write something that may effect someones life forever.

Just a note for the future when writing your review about anything.

Sincerely
Cheryl Campbell

    

-- 
Cheryl Campbell

 

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

I loev Mason Reed's whole thing goin' on there. He's a misunderstood nomad of another kind and that voice is SWEET. I met him in Illinois and was totally blown away by the live ONE MAN performance! I think he just needs more harmonica

 

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

I saw Mason Reed in a Nashville bar and felt immediately that this guy is the real deal. Totally unique voice both artistically and literally.

 

Mason and I talked after his set and it turned out that he was hitting the road alone with his guitar driving from gig to gig and sometimes sleeping in his car. I can't see what's pretentious about a young man slogging it out on the road. Mason Reed lives this lifestyle for his self-funded art. 

Is it me or does the writer of this article seem overly bitter and mean spirited in this attack on an independent musician? I just don't get it.

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

I came across this review whilst looking for the release of Mason Reed's upcoming album, produced by Stuart Mathias of the Wallflowers.  I could not make heads or tails of the comments in the review, as I know Reed and find him to be a professional, who has paid his dues.  He was chosen by John Oates (Hall and Oates),  to participate in the first annual 7908 Aspen Songwriters Festival, in 2010 because of "You Can't Come Back from Heaven, the album that was trashed by you. 

So, I did some research and you, Eli Boonin-Vail, are the the co-editor in chief of a local high school newspaper in Boulder, as of 2011.  Here is the link: http://www.fhsroyalbanner.com/category/staff/page/2/   

You are a teenager!!!  How old were you, when you wrote this, 15?  Talk about pretentious!!!  No, wonder you didn't understand this music.  You haven't had any experience, about life or love.  When you grow up and have experienced the pain of love and loss, maybe I will take your reviews seriously. 

Boo, Hiss, to the Boulder Weely for allowing an inexperienced pubescent to write your reviews, without informing the public he is an intern; which means he is still learning.  What a bloody joke!   I, for one, will think twice about trusting your reviews, in future.

 

 
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