Lucy Mason - Flashback Romance - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lucy Mason - Flashback Romance

by Howard Scott Rating:10 Release Date:2019-02-15
Lucy Mason - Flashback Romance
Lucy Mason - Flashback Romance

There are a lot of enjoyable experiences that come with covering the modern music scene, but perhaps one of the most satisfying happens when an unexpected gem falls into the lap completely by surprise. The debut LP by Lucy Mason, “Flashback Romance”, has been one such occurrence. Add first-class songwriting to exquisite production and you generally get a fine result, but what sets Ms. Mason apart from the crowd is her incredible voice. The album is mixed to put her vocal stylings front and center, and that is exactly where they should be. The list of female singers who could handle her range and strength of tone is a short one, and that list is inhabited by some fairly exalted names. Nine cuts of romantic and highly polished music live here, and it is a heavenly place to visit. 

The album has also been cleverly marketed since half of it was released in 2018 to critical acclaim. The total project was then given a February birthday. 

You only need to be about five bars into opener “Out of the Blue” before the skill here becomes readily apparent. It would be easy to call this dream pop, but it really is much more. That genre tends too often to drown the creator in ethereal pools of sound, but that isn’t the case here. The minimalist orchestral backdrops blend perfectly with the lyrics to create a balance leaning slightly toward Mason’s vocal, and it couldn't be done any better.

A jazzy off-the-beat percussion riff gives “3am” a more experimental feel, but then it is followed by “Runway” which serves as the ultimate framed masterpiece for Mason’s considerable vocal chops. Backed by a heavy bass presence, Mason goes up and down the vocal ladder seemingly effortlessly. There are some A-listers out there whom I believe would happily kill for this degree of talent.

Eight of the nine tunes were produced by Jess Henderson, but Jordi White steps in to handle “Sunday”, and the difference, while not stark, is noticeable. A haunting backing vocal and great keyboard work enhance a tune that sends out echoes of classic Enya without the overly lush production that would sometimes minimize the Irish chanteuse’s vocal. Again, this one is just right. 

Mason duets with Cameron Jones on “It Won’t Matter” and these two vocalists seem linked by divine intervention. Whether sharing alternate verses or blending on the choruses, the vocals go together like finely meshed gears and compliment the song’s quirky keyboard work.

There are two covers included on the album, and the first, “It Was Love” pays tribute to L.A. trio LANY’s original. Just changing the gender of the vocal from a male to female perspective gives the tune a more poignant and sorrowful feel as Mason uses a torch song style to create a story of deep regret not easily forgotten. While this is by no means a guitar-driven album, the string work here is exceptional as well. As covers go, they don’t get much better. 

There aren’t a lot of solo artists who possess the intestinal fortitude to cover a song by rock gods Radiohead, but Mason jumps into the deep end with “High and Dry” and does the original anthem proud. It is basically her voice and a piano, and the pairing comes off superbly. I’m betting the latest inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame heartily approve. 

The premise of the album is based on a nostalgic look back at the combined experiences of life that culminate where the author is today. Title tune “Flashback Romance” uses a gorgeous melody and a travelogue-through-life lyric to drive home the aura of what was, what could have been and what is. “I can’t get you off of my mind / Its just a flashback. / I want you back in my life / it just a flashback” she sings with longing, and I think we all know we have been there at some point. 

Another quick look into life’s rear view mirror with “Kids That Night” wraps up the disc in a short and sweet 2:50 and finishes things off nicely. 

Aside from the aforementioned musical talent contained in this effort, I also found it to be one of the most impressively produced recordings I have heard. Even as an MP3 download, (how we ink-stained wretches usually hear pre-release albums) the sonic crispness and crackling clarity of every note is impressive, to put it mildly. I am eagerly looking forward to hearing it on vinyl.

I found this all to be even more exceptional after finding out that Ms. Mason is not currently under contract to a record label. Self-released recordings can very often be stymied by stupefyingly low production budgets that result in too many shortcuts being taken. I have no idea what the budget situation was here, but if it was small, it makes the sum of the parts even more admirable. 

Ms. Mason is rather philosophical about her situation, musing: “I love making music and releasing it myself, but I am always hoping more people will hear it.”  I heartily support that hope. This album is an enchanting listen that should find it’s way to the masses, and the sooner the better. It is just too darn good to be missed.

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