by Rachel LeBlanc
if there is one thing the Northwest is not in short of supply of, it’s acoustic-based low-key songwriters. In the sea of all the music fit for sitting down and self-reflecting, having the right key elements will lead you to be noticed. Add to the acoustic roster new-comer Fences, aka Chris Mansfield. Already garnering attention from the music blogs and local magazines, this solo project holds all that is good about the genre: an ambiance conveying the right mood for a rainy Seattle afternoon or uplifting enough for a lazy sunny outing; catchy lyrics repetitive enough to sing along after only your first listen; a beat poppy enough to nod your head along; introspective and analytical lyrics. Mansfield’s influences are evident, yet I will spare the name-dropping; you will know who I would compare him to after taking a listen. The edge Mansfield adds to be outside the rest is the gentle percussion he adds, thanks to a person only listed on his MySpace page as “Matt.” There is also a breezy jazz feel mixed with a classic country sound throughout the songs. I was told Fences is based out of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood -- this fact adds a new perspective to two lyrics in particular that caught my ear. In “My Girl the Horse”, he repeats, “Neither one of us/will make it down/this hill alive.” Sung from the perspective of a girl, “Boys Around Here” contains the observation: “Boys round here/ don’t respect a thing/ don’t respect a thing at all.” I am not aware of his intentions with these lyrics, but to some they could hold a truthfulness to his current locale; however, they could easily be related by the listener about many places or situations, which is another positive quality of his work. Even if you are feeling a bit burned out on the quietude of all the acoustic music flowing around the area, it is worth listening to one more project with Fences’ The Ultimate Puke.
A bedroom recording of “My Girl The Horse”