Mason Jennings continues his 20-year ride
Songwriter will play two nights in Park City
Twenty years ago, Minneapolis-based folk singer and songwriter Mason Jennings released his eponymous debut album and started his career train rolling.
His latest album, “Wild Dark Metal” showcases Jennings’ ability to set moods through music, highlighted by his thoughtful lyrics.
Jennings will bring his songcraft to Park City for a two-night stand, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20 and 21, at the Egyptian Theatre.
The Park Record caught up with Jennings via email to discuss his thoughts about his two-decade career and his craft.
Park Record: It’s been 20 years since your self-titled debut “Mason Jennings” has been released, which started this whole train running. What does that mean to you, especially since it was self-produced and self recorded?
Mason Jennings: It’s a nice landmark. I was just thinking about that actually. Grateful to still be alive and making music.
P.R: What were your goals and ideas for your songs at that time, and have those changed over the course of the past two decades?
M.J.: I guess my first goal was just to get my music out there. Actually, before that is was to get the songs recorded right to do them justice. So that was the first goal. Actually that’s still the main goal: to do the songs justice on recordings and on stage.
P.R: Last year, you released your long-awaited album “Wild Dark Metal,” which many fans consider one of your best. How long ago did you start preparing and writing for this album?
M.J.: Probably about four to five years ago. The album was recorded and finished about nine months before it came out.
P.R: The album has a very haunting tone. Was there something that especially captured your imagination and inspired your songwriting this time around?
M.J.: I’m not sure exactly. I guess I was inspired a bit by (season one) of the TV show, “True Detective.” That definitely influenced the song “Everglades.”
P.R: Your songs have always set moods through lyrics and arrangements. As you have progressed through your career, how have your songs and music evolved with you as you have improved your craft?
M.J.: I think it’s been just a natural and gradual thing. I think the core of my music is the same though: lots of hope and love, a dream quality [and] mysticism. Story is king.
P.R: I would like to ask you about your creative process. What is the most frustrating thing you constantly come up against when writing your songs?
M.J.: I guess I don’t feel frustration often when writing. I sometimes am frustrated with my limitations as a drummer, or my limitations as an audio engineer. But the songwriting is pretty open and feels like I’m being given a gift.
P.R: On the flipside, what is the most rewarding aspect of creating the song?
M.J.: I think [it’s] the feeling of pure love and creation that flows through me when writing. To sit down in a room with a guitar and have no song and then two hours later be playing a song that didn’t exist before is magic. I have a lot of gratitude for that experience.
P.R: What dictates whether or not you record with an electric guitar, acoustic guitar or whole different instrument altogether?
M.J.: I usually write on acoustic. Sometimes I just feel like it could use a little more octane. When I write on piano I often just record the songs that way too. It’s just an intuitive decision.
P.R: Do you find yourself continuing to come up with ideas for new songs, or are you focused mostly on touring now?
M.J.: Yeah. I wrote a lot of songs this spring and summer. Then, this last summer I just recorded a new record. I’m very excited about putting it out. It’s full of a lot of hope and much lighter than my last album. It should be out early next year.
Mason Jennings will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. Tickets range from $29-$45. They can be purchased by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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