The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: Steve Mason – ‘About The Light’ (Domino)


In a sentence:

‘About The Light’ doesn’t radiate sunny optimism exactly, but there’s definitely a certain generosity and stability of spirit, the sense that Steve Mason is finally at peace with his place in the world.

Since his bracing debut solo release Boys Outside that detailed his lengthy struggles with depression, former Beta Band frontman Steve Mason has gradually undergone a step-by-step journey to contentment that was documented by his last outing, 2016’s gregarious Meet The Humans. That process now seems to be completed with his fourth album, About The Light, and his first for prestigious British indie Domino. In those last three years, he’s settled down in his new home in Brighton having moved from Fife, and has become a father.

READ MORE: The Beta Band // ‘The Three EPs’ at 20 years old

About The Light doesn’t radiate sunny optimism exactly – Mason has always been far too complex a personality and songwriter to make something that straightforward – but there’s definitely a certain generosity and stability of spirit, the sense of an individual finally at peace with his place in the world. It certainly feels like Mason is embracing the simplicity of late-era Britpop in a way that was absolutely anathema to the Betas, but he still finds ways to let his distinctively British folkiness out, providing colour to proceedings with horns and gospel-style backing vocals kicking in near the end of most tracks.

The jaunty, southern-fried single ‘Walking Away From Love’, the swirling guitars of ‘No Clue’, the layered harmonies and sun-dappled MOR of ‘Stars Around My Heart’ represent the kind of mood that Steve Mason lays out here, sounded lighter and more unburdened than last time out, and a reminder that happiness and contentment in life is not a permanent state but a constant journey. You hear it in lyrics like: “Found a piece of bad luck lying by the side of the road / I had a chance to put it in my pocket / But I’m wiser, now I’m getting old”. It’s a beautiful moment, and while Mason isn’t exactly operating at the cutting edge any more, particularly looking back at his Beta Band days two decades ago, it’s arguably one of the most emotionally profound statements he’s ever made. (7/10) (Ed Biggs)

Listen to About The Light by Steve Mason here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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