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“Three” Review

With his triple (!) album “Three”, Joel Plaskett has damn near crafted a Canadian classic, an album that just sounds special from the very first song to the last.

On his third solo album, Joel follows 2007’s band effort “Ashtray Rock” with more intimate, raw and stripped down songs, adding some backing singers to boot. Most of the songs were recorded at his home with Plaskett not only writing 24 out of the 27 them but recording, producing and playing almost all instruments on the majority of each as well. His artistry needs to be commended for not letting one bad track enter the fray with this effort. Most musicians tend to get experimental, putting filler inbetween some good songs. After all, we’re in the iPod era where you can pick away at an album. There is not one bad track out of all 27, a rare feat in the music industry.

In fact, with the way the music industry’s been as far as sales, it’s quite a shock that an independent musician is releasing three discs worth of material in one package for $16.99. The sad thing is that while the latest teeny bopper fad in music climbs up the charts true talents like Plaskett are left selling far below what they deserve. Each disc here serves its purpose. Each one has its own themes, its own sound and its own place in his catalog.

The first disc opens in a flash with “Every Time You Leave” a foot shaking track with backing vocals by two women (who are prevalent on most of the album). It leads into one of the best tracks of the album “Through & Through & Through”.  A song that will have anyone who likes a good groove moving their feet. It is catchy pop at its finest. The highlight of the entire album rests on this disc, the seven minute “Wishful Thinking”. Listening to this shows why he is so unique in comparison to the rest of the musicians out right now, and why for over nearly 20 years he’s built up a small but loyal following that supports what others have yet to discover. It’s a great song that sounds straight out of a classic 70’s album.  The rest of the disc delves into country, indie rock, and several other mixed genres while Joel’s sly wordplay compliments each beat. This is the fast disc.

Disc two finds Plaskett going into his mellower state. These nine songs are comprised of his slow dispositions towards life and the questions that arise from touring, having failed relationships and everything inbetween. His lyricism is in top form here, with musings such as “I play music for money, but I sing for free”. The third disc is a mixture of the first and second, finding equal ground and finishing with a 12 minute jam track with his backing band “The Emergency”. The song ends the album on a happy note, you can tell he had a blast recording it. Never does it go into self indulgent territory. It’s just as catchy as everything else here.

As you’ll notice by the title, the album plays with the number three a lot. Several songs have the same three word title repeated over, each disc contains nine songs and each album is 33 minutes in length. He wanted to be unique, that’s for sure.

So what is so special about this album? What makes it so great? It would be hard to describe to someone unfamiliar with his past body of work. What he has done here is create quite possibly his finest outing yet. An album full of superb tracks that can appeal to anyone with an eclectic taste for music. When he does country he does it his way, by infusing it with rock and clever lyrics.

Not often does an album come along so ambitious, so unlike others that its worthy of the praise its been getting and deserving of sales. You can listen to it no matter what mood you’re in, there’s a song for every state and that’s saying a lot. It sounds timeless in parts, intimate and fun.  You can tell it has a lot of heart in it (Joel’s dad even plays in some tracks) that was made more for the love of making good music then for the sales.

The backup singers nicely and subtly emerge throughout to compliment the songs. They help the album achieve it’s “from the 70’s timewarp” feel. For as much as that’s been said, the songs here still feel current and it is a proud Canadian album. If you like lyricism, if you like Indie, if you like rock, if you want something more from your music, this is that special record for you. It can’t be recommend enough. Support Independent Canadian music if you live here ( he name drops Winnipeg and Scarborough beaches).  Just help to support good music in general. It will be hard to top this, but Joel always has a way of surprising. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Rating: 4.5/5

Kyle Bulai 4.9 ’09

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One Response to ““Three” Review”

  1. Kyle,
    Couldn’t agree with you more. My personal favorite is “All the way down the line;” that song shimmers, man.
    Check out our blog at http://www.nxew.ca . You can find Canadian bloggers from all over Canada writing about independent music that they love, including Mr. Plaskett 🙂


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