It's Like You Never Left
Columbia KC 31721
Released: October 1973
Chart Peak: #50
Weeks Charted: 28
That first authentic follow-up to Alone Together finally exists. But while his skills as a musician are as noticeable as before, Dave Mason seems to have completely run out of things to say. This is a crucial point because in the past Mason's songs gave credence and direction to his vocal and instrumental performances. His early songs were realistic one-to-one expressions of uncertainty and agitation. Mason sang the meekly stated lyrics in a bewildered voice, but impassioned instrumental work (centered around his electric lead and acoustic rhythm guitars) forced out their underlying emotions.
The sound is for the most part so flat that it seems dead. This flatness does nothing for Mason's voice, which is ordinarily tuneful and quietly affecting. WIthout some acoustic filling out (which he's always gotten before, both on record and onstage), his voice seems bland. He sounds best on "Every Woman" and "Maybe," the first of which has an echoed vocal, the other, Graham Nash. Mason's electric guitar also lacks the fire it once possessed -- although this is probably more an emotional lack than a sonic problem. The album's best song and most compelling track performance-wise, "Head Keeper," is an older tune that was done at least as well earlier, on the disowned LP of the same name.
While it's far from unlistenable, Mason's new album is thoroughly mediocre. Uninspired material and performances combined with a thin, flat sound have resulted in music that verges on sterility. The album is a major disappointment from a once-exceptional artist. I hope he rediscovers what he's lost.
- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 1/17/74.
Mason is perhaps one of the most creative forces, lyrically, musically and vocally, in pop today. He is at best with purely acoustic material such as the beautiful "Every Woman" and "Maybe," but can also rock with the best as on "Silent Partner." Singer, writer, arranger, producer -- he does it all.
- Billboard, 1973.
Nothing crotch-shaking, just a typical Dave Mason album -- a lazily put together collection of mediocre tunes, including some remakes of things he's done before. He hasn't done anything impressive since his first solo LP, and his best remembered work will be his songs on the second Traffic album. So what else is new, Dave?
- Jon Tiven, Circus Raves, 4/74.
Once again Mason, whose music has all but disappeared amid corporate machinations over the past few years, can offer new material in finished studio versions, and I bet he's genuinely happy about it. The vague romantic dolor of his songs, after all, is a professional gimmick rather than a personal commitment, and the welcome-back-folks title probably expresses his very deepest feelings. But for me it's like I was never here in the first place. C
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
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