Steve Mason – Brothers And Sisters

A terrific return from the Scottish songwriter...

It’s funny how some musicians stay with you throughout your life. They might not be in the same band you originally saw them in or be creating music for the same project, but their music just speaks to you. One of these musicians is Steve Mason. Since the late 1990s he’s released music under seven different guises and bands. Despite this musical camouflage the music is always vibrant, insightful, honest and – most importantly – banging. And on latest album ‘Brothers And Sisters’ he’s released one of his best albums to date. 

The album opens with ‘Mars Man’ which sounds like an homage to Vangelis. Huge swaths of slow-moving synths explode from the speakers. It feels futuristic but also contemporary. Like the beginning of Blade Runner it’s hard to gauge what is coming. Then stuttering drums enter the mix. As it shuffles along Mason’s vocals join the party. You realise this is to what we’ve become used to. It’s more Eastern sounding, groove-based and denser. He also sounds like he has something to say. 

‘I’m On My Way’ starts with another Eastern sounding rhythm. Here we hear that voice that made us fall in love with Steve Mason’s music in the first place. Tuneful. Soulful. Slightly lilting and filled with beautiful harmonies. Then the chorus kicks in: “Here I am / Hold my soul / Never gonna settle for rock and roll.” Here it feels like Mason is telling us telling us that chasing money will not make you happy. Instead, it’s better to forge your own path. 

‘No More’, the album’s first single, might be the catchiest thing Mason has ever put his name to. Big throbbing basslines. Those soaring vocals. The chorus is simply: “You tried to take my heaven / You tried to take my name / This is the people singing / We are not the same” then the Bollywood playback singer Javid Bashir joins in. This juxtaposition of Eastern and Western musical ideologies works well, purely through its inherent respect.

‘All Over Again’ is a touching ballad that Mason seems to say “Whatever I’ve done has brought me here / So, it was all worth it and I’d do it all again…” When the London Community Gospel Choir kicks in the song goes up a few gears. ‘Pieces Of Me’ feels like another reassessment of his part life; “Fuck your heated pool” is the most telling. 

The standout track on the album is the album closer. ‘Brothers And Sisters’ feels like it was either written in lockdown when Steve Mason was craving some contact with the world that a few weeks before was normal, and made sense, or it’s a scathing attack on how towns across the country are seeing venues, clubs and pubs, closedown due to gentrification and government indifference.

It doesn’t really matter that Steve Mason calls himself – the music is always great. It has that inventive spark that you don’t see that often. Whether he’s calling himself The Black Affair, King Biscuit Time or is a member of Knave, The Beta Band, the 2nd Generation, SetXis or Alien Stadium the music is always great. On ‘Brothers And Sisters’ he sounds like he feels comfortable being in his skin and writing uplifting music that doesn’t have a massive political message, though one is there. It doesn’t have a massively personal message, though it is there. Instead, he’s written an album for everyone. 


Words: Nick Roseblade

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