Birds Flying Away is the second release by Minneapolis singer/songwriter Mason Jennings. After scrapping an album that was full of poppy, live favorites, Jennings decided to go a different route and record some new material in a much more political and social vein. Songs like "United States Global Empire," "Black Panther," and "Dr. King" combine with an undeniable spiritual theme that runs throughout the disc, giving Birds Flying Away a much different feel than Jennings' self-titled debut. Jennings' folk roots are showing here with the political and social songs, but his rap and reggae roots are evident, too. The slightly heavy-handed "United States Global Empire" is folk with a hint of reggae and is sung with a spoken cadence similar to a slowed-down rapper. Jennings shines brightest on songs like the elegant "Train Leaving Gray" and "The Ballad for My One True Love" where he wraps his voice and acoustic guitar around simple, beautiful melodies. The album's most unique track, "Duluth," uses a sound reminiscent of the Doors' "My Wild Love," using a similar tribal beat and chant-like vocal. The song about falling in love with a "railroad man" also sounds like it could be a cover from the Anthology of American Folk Music. When listening to Birds Flying Away you will miss the irresistible hooks that are plentiful on his debut disc; however, it is exciting to see Jennings refusing to repeat himself.
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AllMusic Review by Dan Lee