Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Afternoon Show host Kevin Cole, is “Give Blood” by Mason Jenningsfrom the 2009 album Blood of Man on Brushfire Records.
Mason Jennings is no stranger to doing things himself. He went his own way when he dropped out of school to pursue a career as a musician, he recorded his first album by himself at age 22, and even now he continues this tradition on his new album, Blood of Man, on which he plays all of the instruments on the record. The album, which hit stores last month, is out on Brushfire Records and boasts a Rivers Cuomo inspired 42 minutes consisting of 10 tracks.
On the single “The Field” you can even imagine Jennings himself performing the entire song alone; guitar on his lap and a tamborine slung around his boot. Jennings’ work is often corralled with Jack Johnson and similar artists but what truly sets him apart is his ability to do so much with so few elements and, unlike many artists who try to achieve a similar effect, does so without delivering an empty vessel of a song.
Entirely simple and without pomp, “The Field” is an honest, longing ballad concerned with human connection and knowing oneself in a pivotal moment. Jennings sings “If I was the president, if I was that brave / I would take a shovel then dig each child their graves” and while it seems an atrocious lyric, it’s really what this song is all about: knowledge of what needs to be done and doing it. The song concludes with the repeating answer of “It’s right here.” to the question “Tell me where’s your heart?” and the simplicity of the electric guitar and minimal percussion helps the poignancy of that exchange to shine through.
Jennings is currently touring the East Coast with dates in NYC, Pittsburgh, and Boston. Through October, he continues across the midwest where he will end his tour on November 22nd in his hometown of Minneapolis. Check his website and MySpace page for dates. If you’re on the West Coast (sorry, you just missed him) and are itching for some Mason Jennings live material, you should head to for free-to-download live recordings of his shows, and for a short time you can still listen to his September 25th (3PM) performance live on KEXP on our 14-day Streaming Archive. For now, here’s Mason Jennings’ new video for another song on the new album, “Ain’t No Friend of Mine”: