Blood of Man
There is something about the acoustic singer-songwriter gone electric that wistfully reminds us that there is definite temporality to art. Not unlike Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home, Blood of Man is a drastic departure from Mason Jennings’ folk origins. While the tracks prominently featuring electric guitar (“City of Ghosts,” “Ain’t No Friend of Mine”) tend to draw Jennings’ vocal melodies away from the organic timbre of his signature sound, the album also marks a sort of emotional growth for the songwriter from earlier, happy-go-lucky tunes such as “California” and “Nothing” (from his 1997 self-titled debut). His typically pondering lyrics are put to work here via tales of loneliness, insanity and drug addiction, as on “Pittsburgh”: “My momma gave me 20/ and said ‘Stay out till dawn’/ when her boyfriend was over/ and they wanted me gone/ I would roam through the woods/ to the old graveyard/ and roll my own Topps/ and think two kind of thoughts/ ‘Are we high enough/ to clear these trees?’/ I don’t know.” Primitive percussion accompanies Jennings’ guitar parts, beating more like the heart than the metronome—at times pushing and pulling the tempo charmingly, like a live-audience clap-along.