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Carolyne Mas: Music


(CREEM - Terri A. Huggins)
November 1980
From CREEM magazine.
Photo caption: "Gee," says Carolyne, "good thing this review's in CREEM--'cause otherwise a Rolling Stone gathers no, uh,... oh, forget it..."

Hold On

"As it was the fate of the Girl Groups of the '60's to be named after synthetic materials or anything ending in a diminutive, so it seems the new breed of rock performers who happen to be women are destined to condescending labels. Carolyne Mas is often branded 'the female Bruce Springsteen.' Why not 'the butch Linda Ronstadt'? How about the 'Caucasian Joan Armatrading'? In any case, 'Hold On' is Mas's second album in as many years; if she keeps it up, at this rate she should soon surpass Springsteen, if only in terms of productivity.

Mas's material is original, with the exception of one composition by Steve 'the American Cat' Forbert. The majority of songs on 'Hold On' are about the alienation of nouveau rock stardom and life on the road--no earth-shattering revelations here. Mas states her lyrical case simply and without self-indulgence, then she proceeds to throw things out of gear by turning into 'the Occidental Yoko Ono': vocal and instrumental overkill subverting some of her best stuff. The same raucous quality that made the debut album becomes tiresome here, and Mas's vocals blend into one endless screech. To further muddle matters, Steve Burgh's wall-of-noise production sets up the greatest losing battle between voice and instruments since Tina Turner met Phil Spector.

All this excess is a shame, because one of the things that distinguishes Mas from her peers (and probably earned her the dubious honor of her label) is her no-holds-barred style. She usually sidesteps the cliches associated with being a 'chick singer' quite nicely. The lady is nobody's chump, and she seems to have a definite idea where she wants to go. I just wish she'd let us in on it. Mas zips through 'Hold On' like the Tasmanian Devil--the listener is left dusty and battered and wondering what the hell just happened."