In less than ten years, Pennsylvania alt-grass group Mason Porter has built an honest following. Genuine musical expression and staying true to one’s roots can be challenging when critics marginalize through categorizing and genre labeling. It seems as if the quintet isn’t really bothered by anybody else’s opinion on what type of music they play, or could be playing. Their authenticity has won over a loyal family of fans. Their new album, Key To The Skyway displays the maturation of a group that does things on their own accord.
Joe D’Amico (mandolin, guitar), Tim Celfo (upright bass), Paul Wilkinson (guitar), Sarah Larsen (violin) and Kevin Killen (drums) have clicked tremendously and their chemistry shines on their fourth studio outing. Less traditionally focused than previous albums, the folksiness is livelier than ever. The presence of a drummer strangely augments this less traveled road of Americana. The instrumentation is reminiscent of early The Band albums, especially on tracks like “Midnight Mountain Music Show,” that shine with grizzled yet refined three-part harmonies. It’s certainly their most diverse jaunt yet, uncovering new depth in both musicality and songwriting. “A Women Like You” would appease straightforward country music fans and indie junkies simultaneously.
Founding members D’Amico, Celfo, and Wilkinson, astutely brought on violinist Sarah Larsen, who balances their vitality especially on tracks like “Four Leaf Clover” where her harmony vocals shine. Ultimately Key To The Skyway is good times music. The real world is equally full of beauty and sorrow, and Mason Porter wants us to embrace those feelings of worth and inclusion. Fans of bluegrass, folk, country, soul, rock, and roots music will feel connected to this collection of Americana. One can only imagine the energetic potential of these tunes live in concert. Key To The Skyway was released this Tuesday and has already garnered critical and fan acclaim. Fans of eclectic string bands like Greensky Bluegrass, Elephant Revival, and Railroad Earth will dig this change of speed. But really there’s no comparison and only contemporaries.