2014 CD REVIEW
GOOD LUCK CHARM (NEW WEST-WARNER)
POLITICIANS PEEVE MASTERSONS
“Don't it make you sad/ Rhetoricin' politicians make me mad/ and I can't take it, take it any longer.” - Good Luck Charm - Christ Masterson-Eleanor Whitmore.
When The Mastersons first toured Australia they supported seven times wed Texas raised and latter day New Yorker Steve Earle.
They have played in his band since 2011 so it's reasonable to assume some of Steve's strident social comment songs may have influenced his fellow Texan born sidekicks.
But there's only a small reference to the politics of fear in their rollicking entrée title track for a duo who also call New York home.
It's definitely not a comment on singing Texan crime novelist Kinky Friedman who lost his Gubernatorial challenge as an independent in 2006 and ran unsuccessfully for Lone Star state Agricultural Commissioner this year.
One of the Kinkster's platforms, endorsed by fellow singing actor Shotgun Willie Nelson, was going green by developing the herb superb as a cash crop.
Needless to say other states, like Colorado where the couple met in 2005, have beaten Texas in commercial cultivation stakes.
It's clear The Mastersons are best known for their multi-instrumental prowess and sweet harmonies - a vibrant vehicle for their radio friendly music.
So who are The Mastersons ?
Well Houston born vocalist Chris Masterson plays mando and high strung guitars and many other axes on their second album produced by Jim Scott at PLYRZ studios in Santa Clarita, California.
He borrowed a little humour from fellow late lamented Houstonian by calling his solo album The Late Great Chris Masterson.
Alex performed Never Gonna Get Texas Out of You live on High In The Saddle on PBS-FM and Elwood Health Food store on his whirlwind 2000 Aussie visit.
He has released six solo albums including Bar Farcist and Tale By The World (WMP Records).
Alex also produced Bonnie's album Picking up Pieces that made the ballot for the 2005 Grammys in eight categories.
MUSIC REPAIRS BROKEN BACK
“I found a letter in my dresser from a couple of years back/ it was written by my dad, he nearly broke his back/ he spent his life working at a job he hated/ it could have left him bitter but he never got jaded.” - Closer To You - Chris Masterson-Steve Poltz-Eleanor Whitmore.
They played on each other's solo records in 2009 and joined Earle's touring band, The Dukes and Duchesses , in 2011.
In 2012 they became The Mastersons and recorded Birds Fly South in Texas with Grammy winning engineer Steve Chrisensen, bassist George Reiff and drummer Falcon Valdez.
“It's weird working with someone you love,” Masterson says.
“The highs are higher, and the lows are lower. The way Eleanor and I treat each other, you'd never treat someone else on a session or gig. There's a candour there that's insane sometimes, and we both believe in what we're doing so much and neither is willing to back down.”
The duo, now based in Brooklyn, wrote most of this album while on tour with Earle and singing spouse Allison Moorer.
Their romantic bliss is reflected in triumphant tales I Found You, Easy by Your Side and resurrected romance in If I Wanted To .
“So you self-medicate/ who knows better than yourself/ now you've tempted fate/ might as well have grabbed a gun.” - Cautionary Tale - Chris Masterson-Eleanor Whitmore.
The Mastersons charm, laced by Greg Leisz pedal steel, grows on repeated listening as the rain tumbles down in July.
Chris, a teen guitar prodigy, played blues in Houston clubs from the age of 13 and later strutted his stuff for Son Volt , fellow Texan tourist Jack Ingram, Bobby Bare Jr. and Wayne The Train Hancock.
Impressive - just ask Earle for a reference.
"Chris is the best guitar player that's ever been in this band and Eleanor's a better musician than any of us,” says the seasoned singer and some-time novelist and playwright.
“Eleanor on her own has a beautiful voice, far better than mine,” Masterson says.
“But when we come together, something bigger happens.”