by Janessa Demeule
If you did not pay attention last year, the self-titled debut album, Fences, may have flown under your radar. With just ten tracks, Fences does not look like a full-length studio album should. However, looks can be deceiving. Fences is one of the best albums of 2010 that you might have missed.
Fences consists of Christopher Mansfield, a Seattle-based songwriter, and his backing band. Mansfield has taken his life experiences and turned them into an eloquently simple yet energetic debut album. Mansfield studied at Berklee College of Music, a prestigious music school in Boston. Until he dropped out and began to couch surf while writing these achingly moving songs. His songwriting struck Sara Quin, of Tegan and Sara, in such a way that she not only sang on a track, but produced the album. The combination of Mansfield’s raw talent and Quin’s years of experience produced an overall consistent debut album.
Fences Impresses without Trying
The final product is a rare beauty. It is one of those albums that as the last note fades, you hardly notice. The brevity and weight of the entire album sits on your shoulders for eternal moments as your brain wraps itself around the complex emotions carried by simple melodies. Fences does not seek to impress anyone, and it is that attitude that makes this album worth hearing. Each song holds some deep rooted melancholy that is presented beautifully so that the meaning sticks with you.
Poetic Lyrics Capture Emotion
Despite being backed by a full band. Mansfield’s lyrics and soulful guitar picking makes this album a gem. On the track “My Girl the Horse,” Mansfield shoots his lyrics like a gun, aimed at that part of the heart that does not easily let go of emotional wounds. The line “neither one of us will make it down this hill alive” forces the realization that we have all had about one failing relationship or another. The track “Hands” is a real standout on the album. Mansfield’s guitar playing accentuates the lyrics, “the way you talk with your hands” In this track he is really letting his hands do all the talking.
Fences: More Greatness to Come
Overall, this album is about a man who strips himself bare for large audiences. Not only does it make for a great debut album, but it promises more greatness to come. I highly suggest Fences. You can buy it on iTunes or visit Facebook for links to the download.