Well, we all knew Steve Mason could sing! I mean, we've clung to his lush harmonies since the days of Fade to Grey and Like a Child. But... humor me a minute, if you will, while I reflect on the vocal "emergence" of Stephen Mason.
"Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows" from the Petra tribute album, Never Say Dinosaur, not only took fans by surprise with Steve's mastering electric guitar, but it also spotlighted Steve's vocals, independent of Dan's on the song's final chorus. Yep, that was Steve "looking through rose colored windows, never allowing the world to come in."
Also, Steve and Dan alternated solo stanzas on the cover tune "Swingtown,"...[Come On And Dance!] the final song on Jars' Front Yard Luge live Cd and during their live show encore for the brief "The Devil Made Me Tour" tour in 1998.
Then we heard Steve loud and clear from stage and on If I Left the Zoo on the last chorus of "Collide".. "I know there's something else it's supposed to be!"
And more recently, it was Steve who "bridged" The Stone on The City On A Hill compilation. "You are a sanctuary, a shelter in the shade from the heat of the day. You are a hiding place, a tower of refuge from the storm and the rain. My rock and foundation, You have become my salvation."
I know I will never forget The Colliding Rhinos and Three O'Clock Parade tours, when only Steve and Dan shared the stage with one acoustic guitar and performed the most deeply moving duet of Worlds Apart that I ever can remember.
Even though each of these performances spotlight Steve's talent as a solo vocalist, why has he waited this long to belt out a whole song and just SING? Could he have been just shy? ...Steve?? shy?? The guy that plays the electric guitar with his teeth? Or could he just have been cautious?
Well, whatever the reason, the wait is now over for those fans that wanted to hear a song by Steve Mason. The worship compilation Cd, Soul Lift, from Flicker Records was released this past August. This Cd includes an amazing "assortment" of artists... including LaRue, Mark Stuart (Audio Adrenaline), Vestal Goodman, and even Johnny Cash, but for some uncanny reason it flows fairly naturally from song to song considering the different genres represented. Produced by Rick Altizer, it's apparent he had a master plan from the outset.
The Cd's highights, in my opinion, are Steve Mason's "Lift Up My Eyes," John Ellis' (From Tree 63) "Cry," and Mark Stuart's "Air."
I have to admit that I was taken aback by Steve Mason's voice on "Lift Up My Eyes." I actually started the song over twice and ran to get the liner notes to make sure I was on the right song. My doubts had nothing to do with the quality of his voice, but the texture of his voice... and it was different from any other pitch I'd heard from Steve. It just plain didn't sound like him. After several listens, though, I connected the voice with Steve, and then realized that Steve's vocal range is much broader than I ever imagined. Folks, if you put Steve's falsetto "You're waiting for the axe to fall" on Collide next to his Lift Up My Eyes, you're going to get a shock... actually a good shock. He has a very gentle, yet very, very distinct vocal quality.
I have no idea if this solo achievement will alter Steve's vocal role in Jars of Clay. I don't even know if it should. I just know now that Steve Mason can sing... Really, Really sing!
The song begins with a "snake charming-like" pipeish intro not far removed from The Prince of Egypt's instrumentals. A male British accent interrupts the intro with a beautiful scripture reading of Philippians 4:8. This seems the perfect scripture choice to match the challenge of the song lyrics... to focus on the things of God and not the things of man...["If anything is excellent or praiseworthy,
Steve's voice is lilting in this song. It is an earnest prayer request to God. The tone is somber, but at the same time challenges the listener to "lift up his eyes and raise his hands" to God in earnest pursuit of His exalted desires for us.