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2006-06-05 - 2:09 p.m.

I'd never heard of Mason Jennings, so when I saw his folksy-country-looking album cover, and the fact of his being on Sony, I convinced myself he was Shooter's brother (and Jessi and Waylon's son).

However, he ain't. He is a rootsy feller from Minnesota who writes some simple, human, impassioned songs in the Blood Oranges/Lucinda Williams mode. (Technically, in the Band mode, but I get tired of using the same comparisons all the time.) I like this unassuming album.

And I am not being facetious when I say that his vocals give me hope that you can have less-than-stellar pitch and still land a major label record deal...

Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint have teamed up to make a pretty cool album of Toussaint originals peppered with some co-writes and one Elvis original, which he wrote in the days following Hurricane Katrina. It's produced by Joe Henry, recorded mostly live in the studio with a bitchin' band. Good stuff, this.

Rob Brezsny has given me and my Aries compatriots "...poetic license to be mercurial, spontaneous, and inscrutable" this week, so be prepared.

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