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Breaking Artist: Mason Jennings

Who: Minnesota folk king Mason Jennings, who gets spiritual and explores where babies come from on his new album In the Ever.

Sounds Like: Having just signed to Brushfire Records, the easy comparison is Jennings’ good friend, current tour mate and Brushfire owner Jack Johnson. But Jennings also draws from the Minnesota rock scene, Comes a Time-era Neil Young and his favorite band, Led Zeppelin — all channeled through acoustic guitars. “Whenever I have electric guitars going, my voice just disappears. I’m too mellow,” Jennings says of his aspirations to be Robert Plant.

Vital Stats:

• When naming the album, Jennings got some inspiration from his son. “My five-year-old is always going around saying profound things. One day he said to me, ‘Dad, do you remember before I was born when I was in the ever?’ I thought that was so heavy. There’s a lot of spiritual themes on the record, and the title just fit.” What does “the ever” look like? “Above space, there’s tornadoes. That’s what my son always says.”

• Jennings spend his childhood in Hawaii and Pittsburgh before settling in Minneapolis. “I dropped out of high school and started traveling around. I came to Minneapolis and felt really at home there. Plus, bands like the Replacements and Hüsker Dü came out of there.” Despite a decade living within the Twin Cities’ music scene, Jennings has yet to encounter the Gopher State’s most famous resident. “I’ve seen Prince around town a few times,” Jennings says, “but I haven’t had any run-ins with him yet.”

• Jennings has already contributed songs to soundtracks for both Shrek 2 (even though the song didn’t make the actual film) and I’m Not There (cover two Bob Dylan songs.) He recorded some music with the Shins’ James Mercer for 180 Degrees South, a documentary about surfing legends the Malloy Brothers’ trip to Patagonia, Chile. The soundtrack is due out later this year.

Hear It Now: In the Ever is out now. Click above for more on Jennings, including a performance from this year’s Bonnaroo.

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