Thursday, February 07, 2008

Jason Collett - Here's To Being Here

Jason Collett
Here's To Being Here (Arts & Crafts, 2008)
Grade: C

Download: Jason Collett - "No Redemption Song"
Download: Jason Collett - "Charlyn, Angel of Kensington"

Jason Collett is one of the few artists I never expected to be disappointed by. He's never been much of a genre bender or an innovator, but for solid pop-folk, he's my man.

Not so much on Here's To Being Here. The album is boring and drawn out. It doesn't start out that way though; "Roll On Oblivion" combines sharply observant lyrics with mellow guitars and an odd mix of techno beeps and prominent shakers. It's a creative track that takes some risks in instrumentation and succeeds hugely. "Sorry Lori" is a country-inspired pseudo-love song that's satisfying and a little sexy.

But it's pretty much downhill from there. Starting with "Out of Time," Collett turns into another Dylan imitator. It's a pity because Collett has a lovely voice, but he lapses into a nasal whine at the worst possible times. On "Charlyn, Angel of Kensington," he plays sultry so incredibly well, but then out of nowhere, he starts sounding old and tired, which totally kills the mood.

The album picks up a little in the middle. "No Redemption Song" is a cute little back porch banjo stomp that showcases Collett's ability to assemble a rootsy folk song with a contemporary alt-rock flair. The pace keeps up for a few tracks and then the album just gives up and collapses into filler.

The funny thing is, when one surveys the tracklist, the filler can be determined by names of the songs. After all, what else could a song with a cliché name like "I'm Not Over You" be? It's a song that gets utterly overshadowed by the colossal cliché of its title (and chorus). The majority of the last half of the album is drawn out epically. "Waiting For the World" basically consists of him keening out those four words for five minutes. On songs like "Somehow", Collett shows his talent at arranging songs to be minimalist and engaging, but there just isn't enough to sustain interest and flavor for the listener for more than five minutes.

Still, it isn't a bad album. It's just not a very good album either. It's the type of music you can put on to hear something while working or doing the dishes. But when you start to listen closely, Here's To Being Here starts to fall apart. In the end, Collett's album isn't a very original album and it definitely has some skippable tracks, but it's still a pleasant, accessible collection of songs.

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(April Wright)

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