Words by Tanya Seledee

Mason Jennings :: 02.08.06 :: Aladdin Theater :: Portland, OR

Mason Jennings by B. Lima
Mason Jennings captivated a sold out crowd at the Aladdin Theater on February 8th, 2006. Armed with only his voice, guitar, and piano, he gave the crowd a sample of what makes him such a sought-after entertainer. For Jennings, playing without the rest of his band didn't seem to faze him one bit. On stage, he performed as if they were right behind him, and he managed to create the same level of energy that comes from playing with a full band.

Singing and writing songs has come naturally to Jennings ever since he was a child. Born in Honolulu and raised in Pittsburgh, Mason finally decided upon Minneapolis after dropping out of high school at 16 to wander the country in a Kerouac fashion. Once he was settled, Mason began to infiltrate the rock scene with the kind of dedication and obsession that it takes to get noticed. Not wanting to get caught up in the record industry's notorious "use them, then lose them" approach, Jennings released several albums on his own label Architect Records. After touring as an opener for Modest Mouse, he signed on to frontman Isaac Brock's Glacial Pace Records, a subsidiary of Epic Records.

Mason Jennings by Rob Loud
Described as folk-rock, Mason Jennings sings of everyday observations and emotions without the fanfare found in the majority of today's musicians. His voice is his platform, and his guitar is his rhythm section. He uses these two basic components to fill in the drum solos and the ripping bass lines. His ability to incorporate different sounds into his songs with merely an acoustic guitar is what makes Mason Jennings such a high-energy performer. He refuses to let the fact that it is only him on stage limit the output of his material and ends up delivering an absolutely kick-ass show.

Mason Jennings by Rob Loud
Mason's performance was a stripped-down version of a regular Mason Jennings Band show, but it was still powerful. His acoustic rock spanned and sampled every genre. Mason Jennings is a natural entertainer who produces songs that take a look at the core of humanity. At one point in the show, Mason switched over to the piano for a newly composed song. In introducing the selection with one of his many observations on the human condition, he described the song as one that deals with the kind of pure love that can only come from the same place as pure, unadulterated hate. Within Mason's songs there tends to be a centralized theme that investigates the nuances of life. He finds meaning in the smallest of thoughts and observations. His words are honest, coming straight from the heart. They are an outpouring of emotion that stems from an intense scrutiny of what makes people the way they are. His pure, organic voice, which sounds like it belongs to a sixty year-old man, emits a raw energy that can't be mimicked through the extra effects that saturate the music of other artists.

Mason Jennings by Cameron Wittig
Likened to Bob Dylan and influenced by delta blues, Mason sings about the meat of human emotions and actions. He is brutally honest, and his songs reflect this no-nonsense view of the world. While traditional in themes like love, hate, envy, and pride, his songs are in no way generic. Rather, they express his spirituality and his quest to find simple truths in human life. His openness to experimentation with different sounds and pitches within a song is reflective of how he approaches life.

You aren't human if you can't relate to what Jennings has to say. He has tapped into the subconscious of everyman because he is Everyman. He isn't afraid to flaunt his sincerity whether it means being extremely blunt or brutal. His insights are deeply personal, relatable, violent, and emotional. The heart of Mason's music is in his attempt to decipher life at its core and in the raw emotions that lead people to feel and act impulsively. One can't help but want to sing along with him, because even if the words are foreign, what he's saying isn't.

JamBase | Oregon
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[Published on: 2/20/06]

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littlepire Tue 2/21/2006 08:29PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

this is what i wished it was like when i saw him... he came to chicago with some sort of like a punk rock band it was strange.

krizaster starstarstarstar Tue 2/28/2006 11:50AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I saw him solo in Stevens Point, WI and this article reflects my sentiments exactly!


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