Steve Mason – About The Light (4 stars)

Steve Mason – About The Light

Scottish vocalist's fourth solo release is bold, bright and brassy

About The Light isn't really a solo effort, rather a collaborative project between Steve Mason and his full live band. Mason involved the whole group at every stage of the process, with hopes of capturing the energy of live shows while leaving breathing room for the 'soulful' elements of their sound. High energy and triumphant, this release continues in the vein of 2016's Meet The Humans with uplifting, personal that music steers even further away from the politically-driven sprawling concept album Monkey Minds In the Devil's Time (2013).

There is no shortage of catchy sing-along lyrics on tracks like 'Rocket', and the expansive guitar and jubilant brass lines on 'America Is Your Boyfriend' are just made to be played at a sunny Sunday afternoon festival set. Other moments feature gospel-style vocals and brass stabs that wouldn't be out of place in a Primal Scream song.

'Stars Around My Heart' was the first single released back in September accompanied by a trippy Doctor Who-esque video, and retro references are sprinkled throughout the album, particularly in the disco high-hat on 'No Clue', and the '80s groove on 'Spanish Brigade'. Among these hefty numbers, a couple of mellower moments let Mason's vocal talents be properly heard. In fact, on this album packed full of belters, several more lighter arrangements wouldn't have gone amiss, and would have perhaps given the big choruses more punch.

About The Light is certainly a celebration of how far Mason has come in his solo career since his Beta Band days. Contrary to the title of the last tune on the album, a lingering trumpet note and unresolved cadence in the final few seconds suggests that this is anything but 'The End'.

Out Fri 18 Jan on Double Six.

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