Brent Mason,
River Songs
(self-produced, 1999)

River Songs is an enjoyable CD by Brent Mason.

The few musicians who play with Mason on the CD are all great. There is Lloyd Hanson (electric guitar, bass guitar, vocals, banjo, fretless bass, chapman stick and egg), John Brown (violin and ambient guiter), John Born (drums), Peter Doyle (conga) and Judy Kamminga (vocals). Mason's voice has just a slightly rough edge to it. He also plays the acoustic guitar and harmonica quite well.

I only have two minor complaints about the CD. One is that I would like the lyrics of the songs. While the liner notes are really interesting, giving some of the background to the songs, it still would be nice to have the lyrics as well. The second is that black print on grey and white backgrounds is not always the easiest to read.

And then there are the songs, songs of the river and those who traveled on them, songs of the land and the people who lived there. And while the river in question is always the St. John, and the land tends to be New Brunswick, there are elements that could refer to any river and any land. "Woolastook" and "Refugees" are two songs that quickly come to mind.

"Wheels of Time" tells of the paddle boats and their captains, remembering a time and custom which is no more (at least on the St. John). "Refugees" echoes the haunting voice of a people who have had to flee and are hoping for rest. "The Angel of Acadie" tells the sometime tragic story of Marie Latour. "Words from the Water" is a song the river might sing, if it could sing such that we could hear it.

River Songs is well worth the listen, so take the time to sit back and rest, and let this river of song carry you.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]

Check out Brent Mason's recordings at CDNow.