J. Mascis dips pen into folky ink for Several Shades of Why

One of America’s most magnificent warblers has tripped me up a little. Best known for gems like “Tarpit” and “Severed Lips,” excessive feedback and distortion, Mascis has released what can only be described as a folk record in Several Shades of Why (Sub Pop). With nary a drum in earshot (tambourine is the only percussion), plucky compositions with poignant, discernable lyrics abound.

In his first true solo release, signature raspy vocals give way to string-dappled tunes that fade slowly out and into the next, delicately. There is a head-nodding element to some of the tracks, particularly “Is It Done” and “Can I” – though they are best accompanied by a slow beer while sitting in a rocker rather than, say, a heavy belly full of Ouzo (read: Dinosaur-style).

There is a melancholic and mature elegance present throughout the entirety of the record. “Make It Right” has just enough distorted sounds to satisfy an old-school fan, though the beauty of short piano runs and flute make this track the standout for sure. The silver-haired noisemaker hasn’t stumbled in his softness; in fact he’ll probably gain more than a handful of new, young listeners. Here’s to hoping.

J. Mascis – “Is It Done” [MP3]

J. Mascis – “Not Enough” [MP3]

Several Shades of Why is out now on Sub Pop.

2 comments to J. Mascis dips pen into folky ink for Several Shades of Why

  • Jesse

    Wow… this actually sounds really refreshing. I’m going to have to check this out. I wasn’t really into much of his previos solo stuff, I think because it sounded pretty much like Dinosaur Jr. This could be a really good step for J.

  • Tom

    I also found the record refreshing. It wasn’t until about 3 tracks into the record that I realized it wasn’t going to get distorted and dirty like Dino Jr. Yet I still find myself listening to this. Way to go, J!