Following 2016's excellent Meet the Humans, former Beta Band mastermind Steve Mason takes a more organic and collaborative approach on his fourth solo album, About the Light. While his later catalog has increasingly revealed his acumen as a more straightforward pop songwriter, the Fife native's reputation as a wily studio maverick who builds glorious tracks out of odd bits and bobs has stuck with him since his early days. Having proven many times over that his signature approach yields fruit, Mason decided to take a leap into the unknown, employing his live band to write, rehearse, and record together as a team. Produced by Stephen Street (Morrissey, Blur, the Cranberries), About the Light combines the strong melodicism and thoughtful songwriting of its predecessor with the cumulative energy and spontaneity of group effort, making for a distinctive and deeply engaging entry in Mason's canon. Added to the expected synth, piano, and guitar elements are mighty brass sections and female backing vocals, lending a soulful touch to the ten songs which range in tone from muscular and funky to dreamy and mysterious. Lush opener "America Is Your Boyfriend" is an obvious highlight with its infectious percussion track and massive chorus. Likewise, "Stars Around My Heart" hits a perfect blend of catchy new wave rhythms and rich soul with Mason's unique voice emitting its smooth airy power. The jangly "No Clue" and the eerie "Fox on the Rooftop" also hit their marks, adding diversity within the album's streamlined parameters. Well-conceived, vibrant, and executed with attitude and aplomb, About the Light is a career standout for Mason.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger