Singer-songwriter Trisha Mason's new album "RedSky" is "more honest and vulnerable than the first," says the artist. PHOTO BY CHARLES EICHACKER

Singer-songwriter Trisha Mason has a new album out

ELLSWORTH — Almost every day, singer-songwriter Trisha Mason and one of her fellow performers, drummer Steve Peer, hunker down in her kitchen for a few hours.

They call the space their “war room,” because they’re continually thinking of new avenues through which to promote Mason’s second album, “RedSky.”

She’s selling it at a variety of places, including Bull Moose in Bangor and the online marketplaces CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes. Her music can also be found streaming online on platforms such as Spotify.

“We’re not just putting up a few posters on telephone poles,” Peer said. “We’re trying to reach a larger audience.” After they reached out to radio stations across the world, for example, Mason’s songs have been heard in places as varied as New Jersey, Northern Ireland and Bulgaria.

“To get more air time, you want to create that buzz,” Peer said.

Mason, a Massachusetts native, has lived, written and performed music around Ellsworth for eight years. She plays Americana and roots rock songs, with ska, Irish and metal elements. Her songs incorporate electric and acoustic guitars, horns, strings, piano and more. Among her influences are Joan Jett and Courtney Love.

Trisha Mason RedskyMason’s first album, “Worse or Better,” came out in 2012, and by now, Mason is one of the area’s best-known musicians.

But being a fixture in the Downeast music scene is one thing. Selling records as an independent musician in the age of streaming music is another — hence the warrior mentality she and Peer bring to her kitchen.

The spirit isn’t limited to Mason’s marketing efforts. Released in December, “RedSky” is more stripped down, soulful and assertive than her first album. It comes at you a bit like a Viking army, with an ominous electric guitar leading off the opening track, also titled “RedSky.”

Those chords soon give way to the disarming progression of a piano and violin. When Mason starts singing, softly and melodically, she dreams about a “sweet lover’s embrace,” before warning, “Wake me not from this dream, ’cause inside, my soul, it screams.”

That tone, swinging between sad and defiant, persists throughout “RedSky,” with its songs allowing a woman to process her grief and say her part about a relationship gone wrong.

“It’s more honest and vulnerable than the first,” Mason said, when asked what distinguishes this album from “Worse or Better.”

At the same time, “RedSky” also includes some whimsical tracks. One of them, called “Charlie and Flora” and featuring a 1950s style trumpet line, was inspired by an older couple who retired to Maine and whom Mason looked after until their deaths in the last couple years.

“I’ll be your Bonnie if you be my Clyde, slinging gravel, spitting in their eyes,” she playfully croons on the track.

Mason has been steadily writing, recording and producing the songs on “RedSky” in the years since her first album came out. The back of the album includes a prominent list of the musicians who play on it, and she points to that roster as evidence of the way local music-makers feed off each other.

“It’s very open and creative and collaborative,” she said of the Downeast music scene, during an interview at one of its epicenters, 430 Bayside, the home and performance space where Peer periodically hosts small concerts.

Peer, who is in the band that often backs Mason, pointed out that she has brought attention to the area’s “overlooked” musicians by performing with them and featuring them on her album. But Mason challenged Peer on that point, saying she’s “just as honored” to play with them.

The variety of voices and instruments produced some interesting results, Mason said, including a jazz piano where it wouldn’t be expected on a heavier song, and sound effects such as an explosion and radio static.

Mason produced the album herself, she added, and had so much material it was challenging deciding what to cut. With “RedSky” now released, the challenge has become finding listeners, making buzz, waging war.

“With every rhyme, I earn that dime,” she sings at one point on the album, “so I’m sticking to the course.”

Mason often performs around the Midcoast and Downeast regions. Her next local performance will be at Ramona’s on Route 1 in Bucksport at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 30. More performance dates can be found at the Facebook page for “Trisha Mason Music.”

Charles Eichacker

Charles Eichacker

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Charles Eichacker covers the towns of Bucksport, Orland, Castine, Verona Island, Penobscot, Brooksville and Dedham. When not working on stories, he likes books, beer and the outdoors. [email protected]

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