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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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November 2017

1
JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,BH,RST,LK
2
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
BP,FS,HD
3
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
HM,TK
4
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
TJ
5
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
 
6
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
BR,MW
7
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
JS
8
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Rivers
Independent
FC
 
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
SP
10
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
MG
 
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
JB
12
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
RK
 
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
HVB,PJ
 
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
 
15
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
HDB,JJ
 
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
LM,SZ
 
Peter Gallway
18 pts.
Feels Like Religion
Gallway Bay Music
CVL,DHO
18
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
Crazy If You Let It
Mountain Fever Records
 
19
Kris Delmhorst
16 pts.
The Wild
Blue Blade Records
 
20
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Independent
 
 
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
 
 
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Matador
EZ
23
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
Independent
 
 
Chris Blevins
14 pts.
Better than Alone
Horton Records
 
 
David Rawlings
14 pts.
Poor David's Almanack
Acony Records
 
 
Grainne Duffy
14 pts.
Where I Belong
Independent
GC,RW
 
Jeff Crosby
14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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