(Arts & Crafts)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
From the upbeat jaunty reggae of “I Want to Rob a Bank” to the moody introspection of “When Things Go Wrong” and the lovely string quartet enhanced “Pacific Blue,” Toronto’s Jason Collett is difficult to musically pigeonhole. There are clear references to the Beatles throughout these 15 tracks, and even if the album is mainly about loss and the results of a sagging economy on the working class, the songs never sink to the downbeat morass of its socio-economic subject matter. On the contrary his voice, somewhat like John Lennon’s, is boyishly refreshing even when the music is as stark as the gracefully strummed acoustic guitar of “Talk Radio,” a touching look at a working man whose “life is collapsing” as he asks no one in particular “what is happening to me?” He even taps into Ian Hunter’s mid 70s glam on the very Mott-ish “My Daddy Was a Rock ‘n Roller.” If you’re new to Collett’s diverse folk-pop or his work with old band Broken Social Scene, start here because the set includes a second disc of nine older solo “essential cuts” and a few B-sides that’ll show what you’ve been missing.