WILLY MASON, HIP HATCHET
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Willy Mason's third album, Carry On, came out in the UK last month (a taster EP, Don't Stop Now, is available Stateside now). At age 28, Mason still sounds like a 60-year-old hillbilly down on his luck. This time, it sounds like maybe he's finally realized that he's a gruff-voiced anachronism trapped in this postmodern age. Dan Carey, who has produced the likes of Kylie Minogue and Hot Chip, worked with Mason on Carry On and Don't Stop Now, which must explain those digital drums and electric guitar. Thematically, though, the songs are still centered around hard work and heartache, as on "Restless Fugitive" and "Pickup Truck." Martha's Vineyard, the tony East-Coast vacationer's island where Mason was raised, probably doesn't offer too much in the way of blue-collar wisdom. But Mason was born with a comforting wool sweater of a voice, which seems to have come with a down-to-earth soul. Mason will follow the starkly beautiful folk songs of Portland's Philippe Bronchtein, AKA Hip Hatchet. REBECCA WILSON
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