Jasper by Alex Mason
"I Found a Light", a lyric from Alex Mason's album, and exactly how I felt when I came across Jasper. Like many of my fellow Floridians feeling the effects of hurricane Mathew, we've been trying to find something to light up all this darkness. Literally, (with an estimated 2 million people losing power) and figuratively with the inevitable tragedy that comes with a storm like this. However, accompanying loss is always the power of community not far behind. It is always inspiring to see how this country comes together in times of adversity. From 9/11, to the pulse nightclub shooting we felt here only a few months ago, the fellowship is palpable. Still, I can never shake the question, “must we have this much loss to come together?” There will always be peaks and valleys in society, but why such a drop off of comradery in-between these devastations? Is there more we can do to sustain the unity?
In the grand scheme of things, the arts such as music and film are often passed off as irrelevant. Reason being, this specific culture is driven by dreamers and optimists who draw skepticism from those unable to think in that capacity. To those I would say, “you would be hard-pressed to find mediums that have done more to build communities”. Quality art brings diverse groups of people together, and when done right, can create conversations that need to be had. More importantly, action needs to be taken. We see time and time again, catastrophe brings people together to do incredible things for their fellow man. So can music. Thus, when I find an artist like Alex Mason, I feel we should shine a little light on him.
The four songs on Jasper encapsulate everything I enjoy about folk and rock. Mason’s blended the two with a grit that adds a welcomed edge to the music. However, his ability to transition to the high notes after letting the gravel grind in his voice brings another dimension to his music. The order of the tracks successfully expressed that talent by book-ending the album with softer songs, as evidenced in Jasper and Roadside. Jasper kicks it off with a smooth sound, followed by Found a Light and Family Tree which both carry a message and a tone that come through more harshly. Roadside closes the album with an uplifting mood that he started it off with.
The song Jasper embodies the spirit of the entire album, bringing a sense of soul and adventure. It's the kind of song that accompanies you on a journey of your own. There is no wrong place to listen to this, but when this is paired with the excitement of getting away, there is no better match. As someone who loves the mountains but finds himself surrounded by flat land, when I play this E.P., I can still feel a little like Jeremiah Johnson. The rhythm for each song keeps you engaged in the stories that are wrapped up in his verse. While it may not be clear what pain has caused him to go to Jasper, or what redemption awaits him there, you do wish you could be along for the ride.
There isn't much information out there about Alex Mason, but here’s where you can find him on instagram and twitter. You can download Jasper and his previous album Wistow Lows on Bandcamp by clicking here.