Willy Mason: Already Dead – a comforting hug from an old friend

Singer-songwriter’s first studio album in nine years is off-kilter but on the money

Already Dead
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Artist: Willy Mason
Genre: Alternative
Label: Cooking Vinyl

Willy Mason firmly believes that one of the few bonuses of disillusionment is a form of liberation. “You can’t kill me – I’m dead,” he sings in a soothing comfort blanket of a voice on the opening salvo of his fourth album, Youth on a Spit, which is an arresting riposte to America’s relentless advertising and marketing culture. It’s little surprise that Mason is a direct descendant of the philosopher William James, brother of the author Henry James.

Mason began his career in literate folk-pop at the age of 19 on Conor Oberst’s label with Where the Humans Eat, a debut album that spawned the highly successful single Oxygen in 2005. Much of his first studio album in nine years is cut from a similar cloth. “All the concern and care I have for people, fear, frustration and sadness, all came pouring out,” claims Mason, which seems to suggest a morose record. On the contrary: it sounds like a comforting and reassuring hug from an old friend.

Already Dead is oddly catchy in a slightly wonky and off-kilter way, especially on the bizarre shuffle of One of the Good Ones, the kooky pop of Outwit the Devil, or You’d Like to Be Free.

Mason calls Already Dead a spiritual state to aspire to where one is free from the trappings and inhibitions of ego, culture and mythology. It is all these things, and it’s also a really good record.