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Minnesotan Mason Jennings released his first album to critical acclaim in 1997. He has put out nine more since, including a live recording released last year. There is something about the honesty in his songs, his sense of humor, and the way that he hangs on his words that sets him apart in the world of singer/songwriters.
Considering his history, it was surprising to see him looking vulnerable during a recent solo show at Brighton Music Hall. It took Jennings three tries and some help from the audience before he completed his second song “Your New Man.” However, the mistake was more endearing than embarrassing and he recovered quickly. After the incident, Jennings seemed especially pleased with the atmosphere, smiling wide throughout the show – as if he was realizing he had fans for the first time.
After a few songs, band mate Jake Hansen joined Jennings on electric guitar, and the two ripped through another 18 songs from Jennings’ extensive catalog. They pulled from almost every record, including half of the first, self-titled album. “Dakota” was the only song from Jennings’ most recent record, The Flood (Stats and Brackets), which made it into the show. Jennings explained that the new album is actually a collection of old songs, some of which he had completely forgotten about until an old friend called and apologized for wrecking a cassette tape of them.
Other show highlights included an especially emotional rendition of “Sunlight” and the Johnny Cash-esque “Simple Life” merged with Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene.” Having recently played a Neil Young tribute show at Carnegie Hall, the duo also covered Young’s “Red Sun.” True to his style, Jennings ended the show with a tearjerker, “Ballad for My One True Love,” and two sing-a-longs, “California, Pt.2” and “Keepin’ It Real.”