sat 24/06/2017

CD: J Mascis - Tied to a Star | reviews, news & interviews

CD: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

CD: J Mascis - Tied to a Star

Dinosaur Jr. man gets introspective on solo outing

The way they're performed is so understated that it’s as if the notion that anybody else might hear them is an afterthought
A master of the craft: 'Tied to a Star' by J Mascis

When you listen to J Mascis’ solo work – 2011’s Several Shades of Why in particular, and now this follow-up – it’s hard to imagine him doing anything else. Which is ridiculous, of course: as frontman of still-active slacker-rockers Dinosaur Jr. Mascis has been an influential figure in alternative rock circles for years. But I challenge you to listen to the way his warm, creaky voice meanders its way through the songs on Tied to a Star, like the sound of somebody talking to himself as he fumbles his way through a musical diary entry, and tell me that it is not a perfect fit.

Which is not to suggest that there is anything rough about these ten predominantly acoustic, vaguely folk-influenced tracks – the precise yet exceptionally pretty melody line that opens “Me Again”, and the album, puts paid to that idea early on – but rather that the way they're performed is so understated that it’s as if the notion that anybody else might hear them is an afterthought. The melodies are loose and lovely and the vocals almost nonchalant, but the lyrics, once you properly listen, are contemplative and bursting with secrets to share.

This is the sort of territory that could so easily end up as mediocre, introspective singer-songwriter fayre, but the warmth and wisdom in Mascis’ voice beckons the listener in – and besides, the album isn’t entirely downbeat. “Every Morning” is almost Dinosaur Jr. Goes Pop (including an unmistakably Mascis electric guitar solo); while on “Wide Awake”, featuring the whisky-and-honey vocals of Chan Marshall, he lets some friends into his inner world. “Heal the Star” includes the excellent lyric “I could use a little downtime, I could use a bit less down”, an idiosyncratic rhythm and some fine guitar playing from a master of the craft.

Overleaf: listen to "Every Morning"


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