On his second solo album Tradition, Stuart Mason draws deeply from his West Virginia heritage with deft instrumental work and evocative vocals. Aided by a short roster of like-minded players, he finds something both compelling and personal in this setlist of dark mountain ballads, haunting gospel tunes and lively instrumental numbers. (listen/buy)
Tradition reflects Mason’s desire to find new ways to express his abiding love for vintage American sounds. Now a resident of California’s Central Coast, he has won awards for traditional singing (Goleta Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention), mandola (Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest) and songwriting (West Coast Songwriter’s Association). As part of ensembles like Molly’s Revenge and Little Black Train or on his own, his work always reflects both his roots and his vision.
“It’s tempting to talk about Stuart Mason as an old prospector, pulling bright, valuable gold from the streams of our old songs. But with his new album, Tradition, Stu shows rather that he’s a cunning jeweler, deftly turning each of these old songs into intriguing pieces of art. The settings he creates around each song are masterfully done, and draw the eye (or rather the ear) closer in to the piece, pushing the listener to examine the song more closely. He doesn’t polish away the dirt, dust, and grime in each of these songs, but sees that this weathering is what makes them powerful in the first place. This is music crafted by a man who understands where the tradition came from and has a firm hand on where it’s going. That’s no small thing.” — Devon Leger | KITHFOLK