Born in smalltown Texas, Lively wrote his first song at fifteen and, co-produced by Lloyd Maines, cut his first EP a year later. Now, four years on, comes his debut album, Stronger Ties, a genre-ranging collection rooted in different shades of Texas country, opening up in the bluesy alt country rock groove of road life-themed ‘Heavy Toll’ with its bass riff anchor and conjuring thoughts of the scuzzier side of Steve Earle. Cody Braun on fiddle, ‘Early Grave’ takes a slightly more bluegrass informed approach to its mid-tempo prowl, though the electric guitar work is straight out of some country bikers’ bar. Braun’s work is in evidence again on the tumbling chords of the alt- Nashville of ‘Right Back To You’, while, in contrast, the drawled ‘Worry About Nothing’ is more in keeping with classic Southern country soul balladry. Ringing the changes again, ‘Hard To Let Go’ is more of an Austin-flavoured chug, Maines on pedal steel, a mood echoed in the circling guitar pattern of ‘Worth The Fall’, one of the album’s stand out numbers.
Harmonica sets the mood for the barroom slow swagger of ‘Roleplay’ and it’s there again on the more mainstream contemporary country girls, trucks, heartbreak and love on the run ‘Lonely Comes Around’, itself set at a similar pace to the preceding chugging Southern fried rhythm of the low slung ‘Ballad Of The Broken Heart’. It ends with Maines’ weeping pedal steel notes for honky tonk slow dance love song waltzer ‘Angel Wings’, underscoring the observation that Lively’s voice and command of a song are far more seasoned than his 20 years might suggest. When those country music awards roll around again, the likes of Urban, Paisley and Foster should be looking over their shoulders.
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Artist’s website: www.masonlively.com
‘Right Back To You’ – live: