Willy Mason is best described as the US's answer to Paddy Casey. A beatnik from New England who's spent a good part of his 20 years on the road, he's suddenly found himself as the new pin-up boy of the Americana singer-songwriter movement. It's not hard to see why; his semi-acoustic tales of eccentric characters and youthful romances have a goofy charm that's easy to warm to. The raspy vocals, meanwhile, take a bit of getting used to but help to cement the impression that experience has given this young troubadour a worldly wisdom well beyond his years. Mason is being marketed by some people as 'the new Bob Dylan' (yawn), but don't let that kind of mindless PR-speak put you off. This is a lyrically rich, warmly engaging album that's well worthy of investigation.