Heavily tattooed Seattle singer-songwriter Christopher Mansfield (aka Fences) is set to release his highly anticipated debut album later this month. Although laden with sorrowful lyrics about the tragic tales of love and relationships gone bad, Mansfield’s wonderful voice just can’t help but elevate the mood of the music to “somewhat optimistic”. And while some musicians labor over it, others just can’t help but create great music; that certainly seems to be the case for Chris Mansfield. Taking queues from his self-released Ultimate Puke EP and turning it into a full-length album was partly the vision of producer Sara Quin (of Tegan & Sara) who took the challenge of working with a gifted and independent musician like Mansfield and made his music come alive. If you didn’t get to see Fences perform at the Capitol Hill Block Party, this will be a perfect opportunity to hear the new material up close. Fans of Elliott Smith, you have a new hero.
Christopher Mansfield and Fences quietly took the stage at noon and played an impactful and emotional set of songs off their soon to be released debut album, which is slated to come out September 28th. They started the set off with driving buildup song “Bones” before continuing with “My Girl The Horse” and “Market Place”. On stage, Mansfield was as somber and reserved as his music would lead you to believe he is. He didn’t speak one word to the audience at any point throughout the set, only humbly putting his head down in gratitude for the applause that followed every song. His face wore the same preoccupied, removed expression the entire time, except for one quick moment when I think he might have turned around and shared a smile with the drummer. A band that lacks any interaction with the audience and carries a blank and seemingly indifferent demeanor are usually the first signs of a lackluster live performance, but with Fences these characteristics complement the melancholy, reflective, and somber music they play extremely well. Mansfield acts as the anti-front man, but in doing so he is actually the perfect front man for Fences’ music. After “Market Place,” they played “Sadie”, “The Same Tattoos”, and closed the beautifully moving set with “From Russia With…”
There will be an album released party for their upcoming full-length debut at The Crocodile Cafe on September 23rd.