Recounting his passion for three great (but different) loves on “These Two Hands”, the penultimate song on Mason Lee’s Something That You Know offers listeners a glimpse at the driving forces behind the young singer-songwriter: perseverance, people, and faith. All intertwined, each are essential to the Texas native turned Nashville resident who’s drawn strength from the personal and professional community that surrounds him. Appropriately, these driving forces also shape the sound of Lee’s debut EP, a collection centered around admitting and acknowledging one’s own truths. Lee’s name may not be one many country fans know (not yet), but it’s one they should.
In addition to showcasing Lee’s artistry, Something That You Know highlights the importance of the relationships he’s cultivated in Nashville. Although currently unsigned, his friendships and connections have resulted in a beautifully produced EP featuring superb instrumentation that could easily compete alongside any label release. Something That You Know is a triumph not only for Lee but the people who support his dreams and aspirations.
Vocally, there’s an understated elegance to Lee’s delivery, an air of effortless cool mixed with his conversational tone. His phrasing provides enough space for his thoughtful lyrics to resonate in the minds of listeners, keeping the focus squarely on his songwriting.
Those songs adroitly balance commercial appeal with substantive content. Although firmly situated in the present, songs like album opener “Something Good” and the aforementioned “These Two Hands” have a kind of classic appeal. First single “Already Gone” is one of the most radio-friendly tunes among the six-song set, with the adult attitude and decisive actions of the narrator elevating it above similar break-up anthems. The driving “Someone to Fill My Bed” stands in stark contrast to the boring dreck about hooking up that seems to have overtaken the airwaves. Notably, the narrator admits to a potential love interest that he previously might have been in favor a fling, but has matured into a better romantic prospect: “If you’d met me six months ago/I’d be a different man/I’d be spinning my wheels, head over heels/Eating from the palm of your hand.” Instead, he proposes actually taking the time to determine whether they’re compatible as friends with the ability to become something more.
Album closer “Outlaw State of Mind” (from which the EP takes its title) grapples with the pull between sin and salvation, featuring a twist that reveals how easy it is to slide back into temptation. The nuanced composition explores the struggles with which all people (even those who appear the most moral) must contend:
Every outlaw’s been found begging for redemption once or twice
Trying to take that step on to the high road
But that outlaw state of mind is calling all the time
You gotta side with something that you know
That’s just my way of thinking I suppose
Not surprisingly, two of the EP’s softer songs (and seemingly two of the most personal) pack the most emotional punch. The narrator of the gentle “These Two Hands” finds power in the comfort and support of those around him. “When trouble comes around/And these two hands start to shake/You’ll be there to steady me/They’ll bend but never break,” Lee declares in an expression of gratitude and humility. Meanwhile, delicate ballad “Something Good” is one of my favorite love songs so far this year. This carefully rendered portrait of a couple discovering the depth of their relationship sounds like it could be a long-lost James Taylor cut.
That said, Lee’s voice is his own: confident, assured, and capable. Something That You Know proves that it is one worth hearing again and again.
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