Mason Jennings chills out Canopy

It is always a joy to see truly independent artists in the music world receive due credit and appreciation, and for Mason Jennings, this seems to finally be the case. His sixth full-length album, In the Ever, released on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records, has pushed him further into the limelight than ever before. Now with a lengthy tour and a recent spot on The Conan O’Brien Show, it seems Jennings may finally be seeing some of the fruits of his labors.
Last week, buzz got a chance to talk to Mason Jennings about Bob Dylan, the Minnesota woods and the beauty of honest songwriting.
Jennings is a singer-songwriter who can change the way you look at folk music. While his songs bring to mind an array of traditional influences, including Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, he manages to transcend genre archetypes with a sound that is all his own. For Jennings, his brand of folk is a matter of staying true to himself.
“As soon as you start to just blend in and not be your own, nobody will want to hear it,” Jennings said.
When Jennings was selected last year by music producer Randall Poster to cover Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” for the acclaimed I’m Not There, he came through with the same dedication to originality that his music has come to be known for.
“I don’t think I could have imitated him, and to imitate someone who’s still alive … that seems embarrassing. I had to sing it how I sing it, and it all worked out.”
Jennings’ latest album represents a departure from his previous work and from the norms of studio production and recording. For In the Ever, Jennings left the studio and recorded the entire album in a cabin in the north woods of Minnesota. Jennings said he “wanted to get away from the sterility of the studio” and achieve a more natural sound.
The end result is indeed a more raw sound. While staying alone in the cabin, a half-hour outside the Twin Cities, Jennings described his routine as writing/working on a song in the morning and working on instrumentation and lyrics by night. Unintentional noise from the recording process, such as rain on the cabin’s rooftop, was left in the mix. “I found it to be a much more joyful and spontaneous process,” Jennings explained.

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