Midweek Music Break: Heather Masse, “Mittens”

Heather Masse/portrait by Siri Knutson

[Heather Masse portrait by Siri Knutson]

In a Midweek Music Break a year or two ago, I featured folk/Americana/bluegrass/roots-music/whatever trio The Wailin’ Jennys, specifically their rendition of the classic “The Parting Glass.” They recorded that performance in 2004; at the time, the Jennys’ lineup did not include alto-voiced bassist Heather Masse (who joined them in 2009). Like the others, she also has a successful solo career: her first album, Bird Song, came out in 2011, and 2013 will see the arrival of her second. (She took time out to have a baby in August. And — whew! — a few months before that the Wailin’ Jennys won a Juno Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year, for their album Bright Morning Stars.)

On the evidence of Bird Song, at least when flying solo Masse seems to favor an interesting blend of roots music inflected with jazz. Among the examples on display throughout the album, here’s the song which closes Bird Song, “Mittens.” Love the instrumentals in this number, especially.

I chose the photo above because — especially in context with this breeze-blown snowflake of a song — she looks like, well… not the Ghost, exactly, but maybe the Sprite of Winter Present.

[Below, click Play button to begin Mittens. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is 4:27 long.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


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  1. There’s something particularly provocative about an understatedly saucy lyric, isn’t there?

    It’s longjohns and mittens weather here in Beijing, and I wish I had an alternative!

    • I’ll bet you do, you incorrigible fantasist, you.

      In preparing for this year’s Christmas playlist, I have been listening to the ones from years past. One of the numbers from 2009 is Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”; the lyrics don’t come across as particularly saucy, understated or otherwise, but the spin she puts on her voice really sounds like she’s teasing Santa in a… not-quite-wholesome manner.

  2. Ah, that was a treat.

    My late blog friend Tony Brooks told me that she’d done a splendid version of See What The Boys In The Backroom Will Have, the song Marlene Dietrich sang in Destry Rides Again. It didn’t seem to be on Youtube the last time I looked, but I should check again.

    Have you seen my latest pun? I only do these for you!

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