"I am interested in the experience of life, not it's meaning," Mason Jennings says.
This purposeful embrace informs Mason's music, and the songs on his new album, Boneclouds (Glacial Pace/Epic), are richly worded reflections that address the hidden struggles and neglected dreams that have come to infuse most of modern-day life. Mason's songs provide unique insights that offer hope, honesty and, above all, faith - an undeniable faith in life.
Coupled with this lyrical astuteness Boneclouds also reveals a musical inventiveness. Produced by Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom) and Mason and featuring Chris Morrissey on bass and David King (The Bad Plus) on drums, the album's songs include delicately finger picked mediations to raw, searing rockers that forge new musical ground as well as acknowledging music's ancient folk roots.
Born in Honolulu and relocating to Pittsburgh at an early age, Mason dropped out of high school, packed his bags, traveled the country, and landed in Minneapolis. The 30-year-old songwriter says he found comfort in the heartland's "big, open sky - and I loved the people and their literate, art-focused city." The third coast has spawned its fair share of musical talent, but Mason's reasons for making music expand beyond that.
"Making music is a way of experiencing something that I can't put a name to. When I write music I am always searching for something. As Thomas Wolfe said, I am trying to remember a forgotten language," he says.
And Mason began performing at an early age: "My first performances were in grade school at recess when I would tell stories to any of the kids that would listen. The story has always been the most interesting thing to me."
The pursuit of the story led him to start playing music as a teenager, and it didn't take long for people to become enraptured with the stories Mason laid out. Understanding that the best way to do things is often of your own volition, he formed Architect Records (distributed by Bar/None Records), released four albums which went on to sell 100,000 copies, toured the globe, and found acceptance from fans and fellow musicians that eventually led him to Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock. Brock asked Mason to tour with Modest Mouse, and soon thereafter asked Mason to join him on a new venture: his Epic Records imprint, Glacial Pace.
"I was completely blown away with Mason's incredibly sincere voice and lyrics," Brock says. "I can be a real shithead critic when it comes to music so I have to tell you how nice it felt to instantly want to compliment instead of criticize the music. I recently heard some of the new songs Mason is recording for Glacial Pace and am thinking that even if this was the only thing that Glacial Pace released, how I am just so goddamned proud to play a part in the release of this record."