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THE MASTERSONS —TRANSIENT LULLABY (Red House Records)

http://redhouserecords.com

http://www.themastersonsmusic.com 

Hard working duo Chris Masterson and his wife Eleanor Whitmore are both fine songwriters. Regular tour partners in Steve Earle’s The Dukes they have deservedly gained additional exposure in recent times.

 

From far-flung points in the States, and on having lived in different places, both together, and before that as aspiring recording acts they implement this into their music. With Chris Masterson’s mastery of electric and acoustic guitar (he also adds harmonica, percussion) and Whitmore’s sublime work on violin, viola, cello and she also plays mandolin, mandocello, electric and baritone guitar, acoustic guitar and percussion you could be excused in thinking there is little room for anyone else, but there is. Among those also featured you also have George Reiff (bass, percussion), David Boyle (piano, wurlitzer, Hammond B3, Vibraphone, harmonium, moog) and Andrew Pressman (bass) and Cully Symington and Conrad Choucroun (drums) as they also pitch in on the Austin, Tx recorded album.

 

Transient Lullaby is The Mastersons third together, it follows Birds Fly South (2012) and Good Luck Charm (2014). Like with their previous albums the music is rich in cultured playing, and sibling-like harmonies. If they have a weakness I believe they fail to establish a keen enough sound on some songs. That isn’t to say they don’t produce a good proportion of beautifully crafted tracks as they tender the likes of “Perfect”. Written, partially in Washington, DC and Newcastle, England it is a strange mix as keyboards are given space to work. The vocal harmonies at times have a beautiful old stamp to them. Plus you have the finely worked “Highway” (we need to hear more like it) and tongue-in-cheek feminist anthem “Don’t Tell To Smile” and arguably the best song on the record, “This Isn’t How It Was Supposed To Go”. Warmed in country fiddle it is a charming piece. Smart players and songwriters The Mastersons have time on their side, and with no end of songs flowing from them in between their travels ‘round the world material comes at a steady flow. Title-cut “Transient Lullaby” and excellent slow burner “Happy When I’m Movin’” paint them as “pilgrims of the interstate”, and as Chris is keen to point out it is often an inspirational point behind their songs. All they need is a little more time to write those thoughts down, and we might have an album to outdo the three they have made.  

 

                                                          Maurice Hope        

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
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7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
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DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
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9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
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Zilker Park Records
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Lucinda Williams
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EM
11
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44 pts.
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Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
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C&O Canal
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BR
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41 pts.
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CVL
 
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18
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19
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LM,SZ
20
John Prine
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For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
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GS,HD
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Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
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