Conor Mason



Before listening to Derry native Conor Mason's third album, I gave his first two another spin. And although there's some progression from 2007's Let It Unfold to 2009's When It's Over, these home-recorded efforts are effectively love letters to Elliott Smith, trapped in a soft-hush, same-pace, lo-fi hinterland. The trumpet notes that herald the start of Misunderstood, Standstill's opening track, are therefore particularly welcome, followed as they are by a series of lovely chord patterns driven by a drums/bass/piano rhythm section and topped by a shyly melodic vocal that's more Lightning Seeds than Portland troubadour. And so it continues to expand across 10 wonderful songs. Backing-vocal sighs mirror harmonica phrases on Lights; a church-like organ adds architectural space to Words before a Mumford skiffle-with-strings takes over. The root influence of Smith still looms over the acoustic singer-songwriter elements of Mason's work, but now he has discovered wider musical textures that match the seductive melancholy of his lyrics and singing style.

Alan Morrison