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26 Letters ~ 12 Notes
Artist: Dave Mason
Label: Out The Box Records
Reviewed: August, 2011

Twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Twelve notes in the musical scale.  

Think about those words for just a moment or two.  Pretty much everything can be written or played if you have unlimited access to either one.  One might think that someone like Dave Mason, who has been in the rock and roll world for over 40 years, might have written and played everything he ever thought about writing or playing.  While that might be an understandable assumption, it’s dead wrong.

Mason’s twentieth album (counting ‘best of’s” and the like), 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes, proves that this rock and roll icon still has quite a bit of relevant things to write and play – and all incredibly pleasing to the ear.  I picked up this 2008 release a few months ago in the lobby of the Granada Theater here in Dallas after catching a phenomenal performance by Dave Mason (read the review here).  I walked to my car and immediately popped the CD into my player.

Wow!  The music that spilled off of that disc, while relatively new, had the sounds and effect of being timeless – as if it has existed from the beginning of rock.

Letters is a twelve song project, half of which was either written or co-written by Mason himself.  Two of the tunes, How Do I Get To Heaven (my personal favorite) and You’re Standing in My Light were co-written and written, respectively, by Mason’s former Traffic band mate, Jim Capaldi, who succumbed to stomach cancer in January, 2005.

The opening cut, Good 2 U, is a showcase of Mason’s signature silky smooth voice and is a crowd favorite during Mason’s performances.  Dave’s guitar playing is as great as ever on this and all of the rest of the tunes on the album.

Following Good 2 U is Let Me Go, which, in my mind, has many flavors of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower which Mason fans are very well aware of the fact that he played acoustic guitar on the Jimi Hendrix cover of that song.  Also a crowd pleaser when performed, this song would be a major hit on radio if radio went back to doing its job.  Just sayin’ . . .

Pink Lipstick is an incredibly well written, “Dylanly” sung tune that intrigues me every time I listen to it.  I would pay a lot of someone else’s hard earned money to find out who that song is about. I’d wager it’s about some trust fund queen that is merely famous for being famous.  Just a hunch.

The aforementioned How Do I Get To Heaven is well worth the price of the album just on its own.  As I told Mr. Mason during my interview with him (here), if one could wear out ether like we used to be able to wear down the grooves of vinyl records, I would have worn this song completely out.  This song is one of most beautifully written and performed newer songs I’ve heard in a long time.  If radio would just do what it used to do, this song would dominate the airwaves.

Another cut from this album that deserves massive airplay is Passing Thru The Flame.  Perfectly played guitar and Mason’s still youthful vocals conjures up all sorts of feelings of nostalgia.  The album closes with Full Circle And Then, a beautiful song of love and rekindling of relationships that is sure to cause you to set your player on repeat.

You can order or download 26 Letters ~ 12 Notes by clicking on the image above or by going to Mr. Mason’s store at It’s a must have for any Dave Mason and/or Traffic fan.