In early ‘90s slacker anthem “Teen Angst…”, Cracker frontman David Lowery imparts this timeless bit of wisdom: “What the world needs now is another folk singer / like I need a hole in my head.” Luckily, Willy Mason has never been just another folk singer. Mason’s two prior LPs – the first of which (Where the Humans Eat) he released before legal beer-buying age – charmed with an oddball brand of wisdom, seemingly off-the-cuff lyrics, and off-key vocals and musical mishaps that clearly prioritized sincerity over studio tidiness. Don’t Stop Now – a sampling from his upcoming third record – offers four new tracks and reason for anticipation along with a hint of reticence.
In his ripe old late twenties, Mason has further settled into a voice equal parts Townes Van Zandt (“I Got Gold”) and country Eddie Vedder (“Don’t Stop Now”). Two-steppin’ single “I Got Gold” repurposes the archetypal ramblings of a kook on the outskirts of town who claims to be filthy rich as a motto for those who may come up a bit short each month but still wanna have a good time: “Bill collectors on my phone, they keep me on the run / But they don’t know the ways I got, the ways of having fun… / I’ve got gold underneath the ground!” It’s what Mason does best: spin down-home scenery into something both hillbillies and hipsters can appreciate. He’s the cowboy more likely to be spotted wearing flannel and a college hoodie than a ten-gallon hat.
Where Don’t Stop Now stalls is the overlong “Restless Fugitive”, a six-minute tale afloat upon plodding percussion and waves of electric guitar that ultimately bogs down and sinks an otherwise promising EP. Don’t Stop Now may not be exactly “what the world needs now,” but it’s added assurance that Mason is definitely not just “another folk singer.”
Essential Track: “I Got Gold”