Isolation and teamwork. That’s the secret combo behind Mason Jennings’ new album, Always Been. Jennings wrote the songs during a long, lonely winter, holing himself up in the back room of his Minnesota cabin with little more than a guitar, a piano, and one 90-minute cassette. Emerging with enough material for three albums, he whittled down the tracklist and booked some studio time with producer Bo Ramsey, inviting musicians like Iris DeMent and Neil Young drummer Chad Cromwell to stop by for a song or two.
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“Instrument,” a song about change and transformation, is one of the album’s highlights, with Jennings and DeMent tracing each other’s voices in lovely, heartbreaking harmony.
“I’ve listened to Iris DeMent’s music probably more than anyone’s the last few years,” Jennings says. “When I wrote this song, I heard it in my mind being sung in unison with her, and it was such a treat when she agreed to sing with me on it. Her voice is deep medicine.”
Look for Always Been on November 12.