In the Ever won’t wham you over the head with greatness. Instead, getting a real sense of Mason Jennings’ new release requires several listens.
Diverging from the trajectory of his career, this album shows Jennings getting back to basics. Recorded largely in a rural cabin, the quick-and-dirty feel is a boon to some songs, like the poignant, train-inspired “Going Back to New Orleans”—and a detraction from others. “Never Knew Your Name” sounds like a rough melodic sketch and gets the album off to a rocky start.
In its quest to be pantheological, “I Love You and Buddha Too” renders itself an abomination. It sounds like something straight out of Sunday school class, and even back-up vocals from Jack Johnson can’t save it. However, the religious theme plays well in tunes like the beautiful, old-time gospel inspired “How Deep Is That River.” Jennings’ humor surfaces in “Your New Man,” a lighthearted romp through jealousy and revenge, while his politics color songs like “Soldier Boy.”
While In the Ever won’t wow you on the first go-around, and some songs shouldn’t have made the cut, a few gems do glimmer. Consider it a sidestep album worth that second and third listen.
Mason Jennings plays the Wilma Theatre Thursday, March 26, at 8 PM. $25/$20 advance.