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Mason Jennings lightens up on new album

for Journal Register Newspapers

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Minnesota troubadour Mason Jennings figured he exorcised a lot of demons on his last album, 2009’s darkly brooding “Blood of Man.” That helped make his new “Minnesota” a friendlier endeavor, though it wasn’t what Jennings expected when he set to writing new songs.

“I expected to be writing an extension of (‘Blood of Man’),” notes the 36-year-old singer and songwriter, who was born in Hawaii and raised in Pittsburgh before moving to Minneapolis. “Then these songs started coming along that were very different feeling, a little more vulnerable, a little more gentleness and kindness.

“That was definite a surprise to me — an a little bit nerve racking. When you start talking about problems, there’s a million different stories you can tell. A real happy life sometimes is not as exciting. There’s not as much drama to it. So that’s an interesting thing to try to turn into songs.”

Part of Jennings’ method on “Minnesota” was to write and perform more on piano after spending most of his career with his guitar. “That’s the real thread of the record, the piano,” he says. “The record starts with piano and ends with piano, so that was one of the threads that run through it.

“I’m not sure what led me to it. I was recording a bunch in the winter, listening to classical music. I have a nice, cold, beat-up brown Steinway piano in my studio and was just playing it, messing around, and those songs ended up coming out and really felt like something I wanted to follow. This (album) is where it led me.”

Mason Jennings and the Pines perform Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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