Cancelled: The Mastersons / Bonnie Whitmore
September 4, 2020 · Friday * 9pm * $15
The Mastersons are singer-songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore. When they’re not touring the world as valued longtime members of Steve Earle’s band the Dukes, the musical and marital twosome make inspired albums of their own emotionally vivid, deeply humanistic songs. The duo’s fourth set of original compositions is the appropriately titled No Time for Love Songs.
The Mastersons, who now call Los Angeles home after stints in Austin, Brooklyn and Terlingua, Texas; recorded No Time for Love Songs at L.A.’s legendary Sunset Sound Recorders with Shooter Jennings; the album was engineered and mixed by five-time Grammy Award-winning engineer, Ryan Freeland. Shooter had recruited The Mastersons to play on his albums Family Man (2012) and The Other Life (2013), and they’d recently reunited to work on Tanya Tucker’s acclaimed comeback album While I’m Livin’, which Jennings co-produced with Brandi Carlile.
Eleanor’s sister, Bonnie Whitmore, is a notable songwriter and recording artist in her own right, who sang and played bass on the No Time for Love Songs sessions, with bassist/keyboardist Tyler Chester (Andrew Bird, Sara Watkins, Madison Cunningham) and drummer Mark Stepro (Butch Walker, Ben Kweller, Jakob Dylan) rounding out the studio band. Longtime friend Aaron Lee Tasjan added background vocals on two songs.
No Time for Love Songs explores the emotional challenges of a morally compromised era, and reflects the experiences that the pair has accumulated in their travels. Those experiences helped to inspire the big-hearted songcraft of such compelling new tunes as “Spellbound,” “Circle the Sun,” “Eyes Open Wide,” “The Silver Line,” “There Is A Song to Sing” and the album’s poignant title track, which showcase the Mastersons’ organic harmonies, stirring melodies and insightful lyrics, which consistently offer clear-eyed optimism in the face of loss and discouragement.
Prior to launching their recording partnership, Chris played with Son Volt, Jack Ingram and others, while Eleanor lent her talents to projects by Regina Spektor and Angus & Julia Stone. In 2008, Chris stepped out with his self-released solo album The Late Great Chris Masterson, while Eleanor made her solo move with the D.I.Y. effort Airplanes. In 2012, they released their first collaborative effort, Birds Fly South. That album won widespread critical acclaim, with Esquire designating the Mastersons as one of the “Bands You Need To Know Right Now.” Two years later, they followed up their debut with Good Luck Charm, which the Austin Chronicle praised for the duo’s “spunky wit and rare emotional maturity.” Good Luck Charm earned the Mastersons slots on NPR’s Mountain Stage and at high-profile festivals around the world. 2017’s Transient Lullaby explored new musical and lyrical territory, demonstrating how much the pair’s songwriting and performing skills had evolved with time, travel and experience.