Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Mascott – Art Project

Pure concentrated sunshine. If you can’t wait for spring, this is your daily dose of vitamin D minus those nasty UV rays. It’s sort of the musical equivalent of what the elves in Lord of the Rings ate on long trips: one tasty cookie will sustain you, and in the case of this album, lift your spirits for a month. Mascott’s two previous cds were good but this is really something special, a showcase for frontwoman Kendall Jane Meade’s jewel-like, brilliantly nuanced purist pop songcraft. Even the sad songs here glimmer and sparkle with jangly guitar, vividly incisive piano and even strings in places; Jim Bentley’s production is terse, understated and true to form. The arrangements are playful and fun; Meade’s lyrics, like her tunes, are beautifully crystalized and strikingly smart yet deceptively simple, with the occasional indelible urban image. This is a quintessential New York album. “I wanna make you press play then repeat,” she cajoles early on, succeeding better than she ever probably imagined. Likewise, the former Juicy bandleader and frequent Sparklehorse collaborator’s high, pretty voice has an effortless, reassuring warmth: she comes across as someone who would always be there to walk you home from the train if you called, even if it was late and you had several blocks to go after the subway.

 

Spiked with bright electric piano, the cd’s first cut Live Again is a pop gem, the narrator gently nudging her way into rekindling a relationship that’s gone cold. Fourth of July follows in more of a rock vein, wistful but far from maudlin. Chiming with gorgeously pointillistic piano and acoustic guitar textures, Opposite is the high point of the cd, soberly matter-of-fact yet fearlessly optimistic:

 

I map out my days in the sand, I know that the water could wash it away

I feel what I feel, I do what I can, it took me so long to feel this way

 

Dream Another Day is a brief, bustling and considerably funny Penny Lane-style rush hour narrative: friends may be wondering how consuming the dayjob has become, but not to worry, Meade reassures: she won’t be out of circulation forever. The theme recurs in the utterly charming, harmony-driven Nite Owl (a real showstopper when the band plays it live). Only on the starkly bluesy, minor-key 6/8 breakup ballad Letting Go of the Sun does the mood go completely dark, and even that one’s leavened somewhat by a big instrumental sigh on the chorus, all the instruments going “awwwww,” down the scale in unison. The cd closes with a rousing campfire singalong of Wildwood Flower. The only complaint about this cd is that it has an end. But that’s what the repeat button is for. Definitely one of the top four or five cds to come over the transom here this year, and a likely soundtrack for a whole lot of people’s lives for the summer of 2009. Mascott have also teamed up with Gramercy Arms to release a wonderful new single, This Christmastime, available for free download here. Mascott’s next NYC date is Jan 19 at Cake Shop.

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December 6, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment