*Special guest: Elvis Perkins
Willy Mason is becoming a great songwriter....
If The Ocean Gets Rough is filled with eleven of Willy’s best songs to date,
some immediately direct, others more subtle and evocative. With more developed
and ambitious songwriting and instrumentation, Mason joins personal tales with
socio-cultural commentary, effortlessly expressing his own experiences while
making them our own.
But Willy isnt preaching, and he wants you to know he doesn’t have all the
answers. „I like to observe and reach my conclusions. My instinct is always
curiosity versus outrage when I see things – I want to understand why things are
the way they are.“
Family, hometown and friends populate many of these poignant stories: a confused
son in The World That I Wanted, an inspiring mother (amidst bleak
circumstances) in Gotta Keep Walking and We Can Be Strong, and unusual
relationships with each family member in When The River Moves On.
After nearly two years touring and rambling, Willy headed back home to Marthas
Vineyard, Massachusetts, a small and isolated island surrounded by the Atlantic.
[Though summer tourists have made the Vineyard well known in recent years,
during Willys childhood its economy still depended on small commercial fishing
operations.] Thus Masons quest for answers about life, love, family and
community seem to keep leading him back to the sea. Youll notice a variety of
ocean and nature metaphors throughout the record, culminating with the last two
dark and harrowing tracks which look a little more literally at our planets
predicament. The End Of The Race observes the devastation being inflicted upon
nature by a selfish race, and the apocalyptic When The Leaves Have Fallen is
described by Willy as A love song for the end of the world.
Cut of the same cloth as the anthemic Oxygen (from his first album), Save
Myself will seem a manifesto to some and a love song to others (or both). The
haunting Simple Town, a political song of a very different stripe, subtly
focuses on knee-jerk liberalism and the oversimplified perspective of the
American red state / blue state mentality.
While his critically-heralded debut Where The Humans Eat sold over 100,000
copies, Mason (b. 11/21/84) lived his credo Gotta Keep Movin, with a long
trail of slept-upon sofas bobbing in his wake. Along the way, he played a lot of
shows, both solo and with his band, including the 2005 Glastonbury Festival –
with 5,000 kids singing along to the entire album. While he was practically
knighted in England, he tramped a more
humble path in the US, traveling alone with a backpack and an acoustic guitar,
tirelessly touring with the likes of Bright Eyes, Magic Numbers, Beth Orton,
Jenny Lewis, KT Tunstall, Ray LaMontagne and Radiohead.
If The Ocean Gets Rough was recorded mostly in North Brookfield, Massachusetts
at Long View Farm, a studio more notable for its livestock than its acoustics.
Willy invited friends and family to hang out, bring instruments, cook meals,
ride horses, shoot pool and on occasion he had to throw them all out of the
studio so he could concentrate and get some work done. He reportedly didnt put
his shoes on for two weeks.
Willy Mason – songwriting, vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, cello,
percussion. Younger brother Sam Mason plays drums on all tracks. Farley Glavin
(bass), Nina Violet (viola / vocals), Colin Ruel (guitar), Marciana Jones
(vocals) are young musicians from Martha’s Vineyard, who have been backing Willy
in various combinations the past couple years. Jemima James (mom) sings several
backing vocals. Cousin Zak Borden plays mandolin. JD Foster plays some acoustic
and electric bass. Rosanne Cash sings on We Can Be
Strong. Produced by Chris Shaw, Doug Easley, & Willy Mason. Engineered and
mixed by Chris Shaw & Doug Easley. Mixed in Memphis and New York without all the
Willy Mason EP (Grandmas Basement) 2003
Hard Hand To Hold EP (Virgin UK / Grandmas Basement) 2004
Where The Humans Eat (Astralwerks / Grandmas Basement) 2005
Hard To Lie Down EP (Virgin UK / Grandmas Basement) 2005
Scraps EP (Astralwerks / Grandmas Basement) 2006
March 28, 2006 (Grandmas Basement) 2006 (backed by Cousin Zaks bluegrass band)
2004 / 2005 press quotes
Mason’s lo-fi blues/folk blend is refreshingly humble and unostentatious.
Instead of using these standards as a springboard for modern adventures in
composition, he sticks to their rawboned essence. Unlike some of his peers,
Mason doesn’t play up that rawness; instead he allows those old progressions to
work their magic rather than forcing catharsis. (7 /10) — Pitchfork
„Equal parts hobo and Holden Caulfield, nineteen-year-old Willy Mason blends
precocious lyricism, spare, jangly guitar, and a world-weary voice that sound
older than his years. (3 ½ stars) — Rolling Stone
„He’s creating the most beautiful country-tinged story-telling folk music since
Johnny Cash…The freshness of his wise lyrics and the effortless way he bonds
everyone in a room is the future of Willy Mason. Simply wonderful.“ — The Fly
„Mason’s songs draw on decades of brilliant American music, but it’s the new,
wide-open vistas he points towards that makes this album so compelling. (8/10)“
„Rural Americana for urban teens? Mason is 19 years old. An odd outsider. A man
of substance. (**** 4 stars)“ — Mojo
„With only an acoustic guitar for company, Willy Mason demonstrated why he is
being hailed as the new genius of American folk music…This man is clearly
bound for very great things. ( ***** 5 stars)“ — The Times of London
www.willymason.com OR www.myspace.com/willymason