Mandeville native Mason de la Houssaye is many things. He’s a Tulane student. He’s a barista. He’s a good friend of mine. And he’s the creative mind behind Waldheim, New Orleans’ newest country-folk project, which just released the excellent EP If I Don’t Do to Suit You last July.
De la Houssaye only began releasing recordings of his music last year, with bare-bones bedroom recordings of lo-fi, intimate guitar playing. (Check out “Jordyn,” it’s my favorite.) It wasn’t long though until the project would expand. With the new four-track EP, Waldheim presents an acoustic guitar-filled soundscape reveling in sorrowful lyricism. Immediately, grander instrumentation fills out the new material. The acoustic guitar still provides the base for the tracks, but now drums and bass thump to the rhythm, a piano sprinkles into the melody, and an electric guitar murmurs along with the songs’ subject matters.
In the opening track, “Kentwood,” these elements feel strongest. De la Houssaye’s vocals sound clearer than ever, matter-of-factly reminiscing the end of a relationship that was a long time coming.
But despite the lyrical subject, the composition is quite relieving, which has made it easily a fan-favorite. The song sonically feels like the peak of a night out drinking with friends, when final calls are being given out. Although the times are good, there’s a bittersweetness to its end. From there on If I Don’t Do to Suit You, the songs wind down even further, mirroring the decline of the relationship that is felt in every song.
“Kentwood is one of the most tightly written songs I’ve written,” Mason de la Houssay tells me. “The song is named after a water bottle that my friend Paul pointed out in the studio while we were recording it. I think it was the first song we recorded for the EP, so that had a special spot for me.”
Waldheim, however, is just heating up. The project expanded into a full band last August, recruiting Robert Holmes a Court on bass and Devin Gutierrez on drums. Currently, Waldheim is playing shows all over New Orleans, including a gig with touring act Easy Honey at Gasa Gasa. (Also, I am proud to be the host of their second show as a band).
“We have a show on October 12. We have a show coming up with Bullshit Machine. We have a show coming up with country artist Spencer Brunson. There should be more music coming out in the winter. We might be adding a new member to the live act. Merch, too.”
If you want to check out Waldheim, you can find them on Spotify and Apple Music. You can also contact the band and look for upcoming shows on Instagram @wal.dheim.