Jessi Mason’s “Hollow” Reviewed
Sensitive singer songwriters are much more appealing when they are 17 year old High Schoolers than when they are 35 year old divorcees, and since the marketplace is filled with the latter, and Westchester native Jessi Mason, a friend of rock nyc contributor Margaret Mullen who assigned me to the review, is the former, you might be given to like Jessi, or at least believe her, from early on her debut EP, last years Hollow, but you will keep with her more for the tune filled songs and sophisticated arrangements than for the subtle, yearning lyrics.
The first song on Hollow, “Too Long” is a relation to Ricki Lee Jones early work with even a touch of her jazz inflections, a glorious and subtle song that might have come off Flying Cowboys -about as high a compliment as a singer songwriter can get. The longing is quietly modulated and moving, and right for Jessi’s age and also timeless. A remarkable song.
Jessi mentions Norah Jones, and I can get hear it though Norah is mostly a piano gal and Jessi more a guitar slinger. The arrangement is a soaring and falling thing on “Falling” and a lot could be said for J.T. Credidio’s string arrangements on this song, which give it a heart lifting forward and dip. “Too Long” didn’t need much (though the backing vocals are lovely) but “Falling” thrives on the motion, and the break on “Hollow” is almost ridiculously beautiful, the strings are from heaven and by the coda they cover her before Jessi emerges out at the very end. Maybe vocally is closer to why the Jones comparison is being made. For sure, the vocals here are mature beyond their years even if the lyrics are young adult appropriate, she can modulate through a song line like a pro. Jessi has the trick when singing a line and then holding a word mid way through and then flying through to the end, “and I caaaaaan’t be told one more time”.
On the last track of the four song EP, Jessi sings “I am just the subject of gravity” and the lyric hits home in a minimal acoustic setting. It’s a wonderful thing, a near perfect song among near perfect songs. I’ve heard Jessi will be off to college this year.I am sure she will do great, though with this sort of gift for songwriting I also hope it won’t distract from her calling for too long.
Buy it here.