Justin Masters 2018
Almost a lifetime in the making, New York songwriter invites outsiders to his transient kingdom.
“I was seeing things from a different point of view”: this line, delivered in the middle of Justin Masters’ debut album, may sum up his modus operandi, but there’s more to this multi-instrumentalist. Playing everything on the record, save for drums, and delegating vocal duties to Zach Allen, Justin clearly comes from an Americana singer-songwriter niche, which can’t restrain his arena intent – and neither can Pettyisms and Springsteenisms evident in Masters’ storytelling. That’s the spirit and the ambition.
Equally able to fashion a working man’s anthem such as opener “Crazy Way To Live” and a romantic power ballad like “Illusion Of Love” – complete with hefty riffs and a soaring guitar solo – he doesn’t have any misconceptions about current state of affairs, and while “Innocent Times” brings about a bout of nostalgia, the album’s overarching theme is acceptance, rather than rebellion. Even though “The Next Time” would hint at hope, the sharp, raucous “Who Took Our Rock & Roll” shows no sign of getting against the grain of record shop’s disappearance or music leaving one’s soul, because Justin’s content to spend a short time on the forefront of events, as suggested in the highly memorable “King For A Day” or “Let’s Ride” where carpe diem sensibilities take over.
Still, it’s not a “leaning on a lamppost” sort of observations going on there, it’s an immersion into intimate, domestic detail as laid out in in “Can You Blame Me For Loving You”; more so, altogether it’s neatly textured collection of tracks with arrangements – listen to the clockwork rhythm on the country piece “90 Minute Love Affair” – complement lyrical subject matter. Of course, the album’s title goes hand in hand with the artist’s evoking of another spirit, whiskey, yet ultimately, there’s existence Justin Masters is exploring. And that’s just the start of his journey.