by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
This is the fifth solo album from Steve Mason, once of The Beta Band – and it is designed as a record to bring people together through art, music and culture, in the face of the uncertain climate in which we currently live.
The spirit of collaboration runs through Mason’s work this time around, with co-producer Tev’n helping Mason oversee a line-up that includes Pakistani singer Javed Bashir, Indian singer Kaviraj Singh, the multi-disciplined Adrian Blake and British gospel singers Jayando Cole, Keshia Smith and Connie McCall.
What’s the music like?
Brothers & Sisters is a protest record of the most uplifting kind. The trademark shuffle is still present in Mason’s beats, but this time around he has added a great deal of purpose and urgency to the songs. Where before in his music a more laidback mood was in evidence, now the music is ignited, a zest for life and human companionship coarsing through his songwriting.
As the album title Brothers & Sisters implies, there is a strong family unity between the songs, a communal pull that reaches out to bring the listener in and on board. This is typified by The People Say, where Mason looks to celebrate our differences rather than pull people apart. All Over Again is redolent of early Primal Scream and sees some of his best vocals yet, with the gospel singers seizing their chance to shine.
No More, meanwhile, has a powerful undercurrent of standing up together for what we believe. Aided by Javed Bashir‘s assertions, its strong resolve is matched by a battery of percussion. “This is the people speaking, we are not the same!” they sing, reaching for the sky.
Pieces Of Me, reveals Mason at his most vulnerable, with spiritual undertones to the deeply felt vocal as he sings of “pieces of me inside, people I know who died”. Then Mason ends the album with a final rallying call, Brothers & Sisters demanding that we “pump up the volume”.
Does it all work?
Yes, emphatically. Mason’s songwriting has moved up a level, responding to adversity and collaboration with lyrics and vocals that reach out to directly to the listener.
Is it recommended?
Yes, enthusiastically. Brothers & Sisters is both a call to arms in the face of adversity and an extremely uplifting album, Steve Mason feels the urgency, the need for us humans to stick together whatever our background – and this career-best effort will get a good many converts to the cause.
You can explore buying options for Brothers & Sisters at the Domino website