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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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