As Fences, Chris Mansfield pours his everything into writing musical missives that hold a mirror to his foibles, his heart, his hurt, and his confusion. Drawn to experimental jazz, he ignored pop and rock music as a young man and went to school at the prestigious Berklee College of Music to study double bass. It was there that a roommate turned him on to Elliott Smith, which led to what Mansfield calls a “super crazy awakening.” The fragility of Smith’s music and delivery spoke to him as the son of a single mother who spent his childhood traveling across the country, and hearing it inspired him to drop out of school, trade his bass for an acoustic guitar, and begin channeling his emotions into songwriting. The raw yet poetic quality of his music – built largely on Mansfield’s strumming and sweetly torn vocals – piqued the ears of Sara Quin (of Tegan & Sara), who produced his 2010 self-titled debut. He followed that in 2015 with Lesser Oceans, which offered bolder hooks and a broader sonic palette to supplement his sparkling confessionals.
Mansfield’s music has always been visual, as his words inspire wistful, nostalgic snapshots; “I try to give myself goosebumps,” he says about his lyrical approach. His melodies, however, are what make his words stick. This is apparent on new single “Buffalo Feet,” which offers instant pop appeal with its skittering beats and sing-along chorus. Lauren Zettler provides guest vocals on this song and throughout Fences’ upcoming EP To The Tall Trembling Trees.
“The perfect balance of uplifting instrumentation and depth in lyrical content.” -Renowned for Sound
“Mansfield may be writing simpler songs than in his jazz days, but the years of study show in his spare, elegant arrangements and his easy way with a catchy chord progression or melody.” -The Stranger
RIYL: Rogue Wave, Tegan & Sara, Nada Surf, Ben Folds, Death Cab for Cutie
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