Friday, 21st September 2018. 12:02:16pm ET
Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Heller Mason- The Mess I've Made


ARTIST: Heller Mason

ALBUM: The Mess I've Made

LABEL: Gilead Media

REVIEWER: Matthew J.

DATE: 1-19-10

A masterpiece of haunting and intimate folk-tinged alternative country and folk, Heller Mason's newest album is sure to appeal to fans of such bands as Cowboy Junkies and Uncle Tupelo. While the band's previous album tended toward southern rock-influenced material, this one's a more introspective outing. With the notable exception of the catchy rock offering "Exit Lines," singer and songwriter Todd Vandenberg goes for quieter arrangements, like the sweetly delicate blend of slide guitar and piano chords on "This House Is Not a Home" or the intimate strums of "(When It's My) Time to Go." If there's anything that seems out of place here, it's Vandenberg's own voice, but that's just because he sounds boyish, almost slight, and with the maturity of his arrangements and the strong sense of dark Americana that comes through his songs, you'd expect him to sound a lot more grizzled, or at least a little less like Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard. Still, even Willie Nelson was young once, and between the stirring imagery and lonely sound of "Soot and Chalk," the mournful electric violin of "Fools and Angels," and the driving murder ballad rhythm of "Blood on the Strings," there's more than enough life experience in Vanderberg's songs to toughen youthful tenor. Add to that a masterfully understated use of slide guitar, some gorgeous female counter-harmonies, and hint of effects-laden twang that recalls Mazzy Star or even a cleaner, more country-infused Slowdive, and you've got an album that will appeal to mellow-minded alternative rock fans and folk aficionados alike.

For more information, visit the Heller Mason MySpace page at www.myspace.com/hellermason.


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