Mason Casey hails from upstate New York and is now resides in Holland. Back in the 90s, he worked at several NYC clubs and drew the attention of Popa Chubby, who seldom noticed harmonica players. But Casey was too good to be ignored, so PC helped him produce a demo and that created a snowball effect that leads us to Badass Sofa King.
Fred Litwin of Northernblues Records heard via the grapevine Casey was something special, but I can only imagine his reaction when he realized the full attributes he brought to the table. Besides being a formidable harp player, featured on Wilson Pickett’s last release before his passing, Casey voice sounds like it’s been aged in old bourbon. That puts him in line with an estimable pedigree harking back to Otis Redding, Don Covay, Wilson Pickett, Bobby Womack and Eddie Hinton, whom Casey is especially reminiscent of.
BSK is chockfull of mainly funky grooves and the level of song-writing is another story completely. It’s what gives this collection its cohesiveness and satisfaction. Each track provides glimpses into the passions and travails shaping the artist. He co-wrote 12 of the 14 tracks along with producer Jon Tiven, who also produced Wilson Pickett’s very last album. The legendary Wicked Pickett and everyone else was blown away by MC’s earthy harp and that lasting impression made it easy for Tiven to rope in such extra-special guests like Don Covay, Jimmy Johnson, Felix Cavaliere and Steve Cropper, to name but a few.
There’s an unflinching honesty that has to be heard to be appreciated on BSK and that impression resonates from the get-go with "You Make It Hard," a no-nonsense introduction to the hard-core ways of Casey. He’s into his music in a profound way and his gravelly pipes propel everything onward and upward. Everything throbs with maximum intensity, whether it’s deals with the upbeat or low-down side of life.
"Take Me To The Airport" contains lots of high drama. You sense desperation in a voice that’s been wounded severely as his pride. "Don’t End Our Love" cuts like a knife, while "It Takes A Lotta Love" would be a huge hit if they still played good music on commercial radio. "That’s My Heart" has a definite Fats Domino vibe to it, but with a darker edge, while "Nine Times A Man" is a smoking cover of the Wilson Pickett classic. Casey really nails this one and that distant voice is the background urging him on is none other than Don Covay.
As for the title track, I’d like to give you the lowdown on it, but caution is the better sense of valor. But I’ll give you the lowdown on the entire CD: I grade it a solid A.