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Carolyne Mas: Music

New Stars Of Women's Music

(MS. - Pamela Brandt)
September 1980

Shown on cover: "Cris Williamson, 'Heart' (The Wilson Sisters)"

"Plus: Pat Benatar, Carolyne Mas, Toni Brown, 'The B-52's'"
"CAROLYNE MAS, 'Carolyne Mas' and 'Hold On' (Mercury Records). Carolyne Mas writes and performs what she describes as 'romantic rock.' She has already been compared to Bruce Springsteen ad nauseam, but there's at least one significant way they differ. He writes heartfelt fifties-style rock 'n' roll mini-dramas with an old tough teenager's self-awareness; she writes heartfelt fifties-style rock 'n' roll mini-dramas with a new tough woman's awareness.

On her first album, for instance, there's 'Stillsane,' about a woman who paradoxically finds inside her craziness an inner strength that keeps her sane. Or 'Quote Goodbye Quote': a woman appalled by a lover's coolly hypocritical parting. And if the lyrics are set into a musical framework that's sometimes less stick-to-the-ribs original than stick-to-the-eardrums derivative, why complain? You can have a great time singing remembered snatches from the Drifters' 'On Broadway' on top of Mas's clonepiece (musically) to it, 'Sittin' in the Dark.'

If there's any fault to be found with the first album, it's only that Mas is too careful (by rock 'n' roll standards) about pushing her big, operatically trained voice to and beyond its limits. However, Mas feels that she and her group have 'grown heavier' in live concert, and her second album, 'Hold On,' reflects this. In fact, it was recorded 'live in the studio.' (That means a studio performance was recorded intact instead of the usual studio practice of laying down basic instrumental tracks first and then overdubbing vocals and 'sweetening.')

Musically, 'Hold On' is less derivative than the first album; lyrically, it is moreso. Case in point: while Mas told me in our interview that she'd suffered plenty of crazy-making put-downs and loneliness specifically as a woman on the road, her four 'on the road' cuts don't mention those experiences. Instead of rehashing them ol' Jackson Browne Memorial Holiday Inn Blues for the umpteenth time, it would be nice if Mas would use her ample talent and intelligence to start carving out a new female tradition."