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Heather Masse

Bird Song – 2009 (Red House)

Reviewed by Jacquilynne Schlesier

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CDs by Heather Masse

Best known as the newest member of the Wailin' Jennys, Heather Masse has also performed with several other bands, including Heather and the Barbarians and Joy Kills Sorrow. This is her solo debut.

Fans of the Jennys won't be surprised by anything on Masse's album; though it has a gently jazzy inflection, the album is filled wistful pop similar to what the Jennys are known for. Without her band mates, Masse's high, clear voice is given a chance to shine. Her performance is relaxed and airy, well-suited to the arrangements.

Masse also wrote all of the songs (with one co-writing credit for fellow Jenny Nicky Mehta on the title track). Her writing is as ethereal as her singing, and she largely avoids straightforward narratives or characters, instead focusing on describing and evoking emotions.

That works well in some places and not as well in others. The first track, I Don't Wanna Wake Up Today beautifully describes the sadness of waking up alone yet manages to end on an optimistic note. Time's a Hoax tangles with the fluid nature of time and the angst of waiting. On the other hand, Our World aims at inspiration, but is too generic to succeed, while Bathtub and Mittens employ very odd metaphors.

"Bird Song" is an easy album to listen to, pleasantly sung and produced, but it doesn't always pay to listen too closely.