Boneclouds by Mason Jennings | 827969649022 | CD | Barnes & Noble
Boneclouds

Boneclouds

4.0 2
by Mason Jennings
     
 
This Minnesota-based singer-songwriter has been honing his craft for quite a while, notching four indie albums that gathered him an impressive cult following -- a profile that led Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock to make Jennings the first signing to his new label. Boneclouds finds Jennings continuing the yearning tone of his

Overview

This Minnesota-based singer-songwriter has been honing his craft for quite a while, notching four indie albums that gathered him an impressive cult following -- a profile that led Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock to make Jennings the first signing to his new label. Boneclouds finds Jennings continuing the yearning tone of his earlier work but couching his queries in decidedly different surroundings -- replacing his stripped-down, largely acoustic approach with a hypnotic Eastern-leaning set of melodies. On the eerie "Be Here Now," Jennings employs a modal drone -- à la George Harrison -- to convey the song's spiritual essence, a distillation of the Ram Dass book of the same name. The wiry "Where the Sun Had Been," on the other hand, pulses along more viscerally, something like Crazy Horse cooled slightly by a long upper-Midwest winter. For those who have already been introduced to Jennings and come to expect more intimacy from him, Boneclouds has its share: notably "If You Ain't Got Love," a delicate meditation on unspoiled emotion that's accompanied by little more than a simply strummed acoustic guitar. A similar vibe imbues the provocative, album-ending "Jesus Are You Real?," which finds Jennings lodging that query -- and many others -- in an effort to come to terms with the decay in the world around him. Unlike singer-songwriters with a more doctrinaire point of view, Jennings doesn't offer a pat answer to any of those questions -- but he's certainly capable of making his listeners ponder along with him.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Marisa Brown
There was some concern among fans that after singer/songwriter Mason Jennings became the first artist to be signed to Glacial Pace, an Epic imprint run by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock, he would succumb to major-label over-production temptations. The Minnesotan, however, assured everyone that the increased funding and advertising wouldn't compromise any of his artistic integrity. For the most part, Jennings, in his Epic debut, Boneclouds, stays true to his musical vision -- for the most part, because there are some noticeable changes. For example, the rough, organic feel that many of his previous albums had (even those that also featured a band) is replaced with smoother, reverby pianos and guitars and vocal harmonies. It's not an overpowering difference, but it's definitely there. And he also chooses to experiment a bit stylistically. "Some Say I'm Not" sounds like something the White Stripes would do if Jack White decided to play an acoustic guitar and explore Middle Eastern chants, and it's a little out of character for Jennings, though it still works. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the keyboard-synth number, "Where the Sun Had Been," a new wave-meets-Mick Jagger-meets-David Gray piece that, while it's not necessarily bad, is such a departure from what Jennings has done that it's almost shocking, and certainly confusing. Despite these digressions (even the addition of Bad Plus drummer Dave King just brings a nice, slightly funkier element to the music), the rest of Boneclouds is pretty close to what Jennings is and always has been. There are pretty, folky melodies over strummed and picked guitars and soothing piano chords, and insightful, reflective lyrics about love and life. He's always been an honest writer, and he doesn't change anything here, admitting his doubts about himself and organized religion, and freely expressing his emotions about those he cares for. "Moon Sailing on the Water," which features his wife, Amy, on background vocals, is soft and bittersweet; "Jackson Square" finds the singer in top storytelling form; and even the slightly campy "If You Ain't Got Love" has a gentle, catchy chorus that comes across as sincere. There are a few missteps in Boneclouds, but it seems that Jennings has made the jump into major-label territory relatively smoothly, preserving his individuality and showing off his talent while also benefiting from the resources Brock and company could offer him.
Entertainment Weekly - Michael Endelman
The troubadour's fifth -- and best -- is poignant and graceful. (A-)
Boston Globe - Matthew Shaer
There's an air of contentment to Mason Jennings' s sixth full-length record.... As a musician, Jennings is coming into his own.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/16/2006
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969649022
catalogNumber:
96490
Rank:
82795

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