Canada - Full Moon 115 - 02/13/06
Joel Plaskett Emergency
When John Mayer starts releasing blues records you know it's time to dive into that old collection of awkward, southern delta, wanna-be-crooner types and prepare for the worst. Feel free to pull out the bizzare jazz debut This Was Jethro Tull, B.B. King's latter-day disaster Live at San Quentin, and SRV & Double Trouble's painfully eighties sounding In Step - and let the cringing begin. In your travels, young scholar, you may come across this 2003 disc (finally getting a release/reissue here in the states in time for his solo debut, La de da) that captures a jangly, Canadian captain of a bluesy, post-punk trio tactfully avoiding that gathering.
"Written All Over Me" kicks off at medium pace with a riff most bands would stumble over - not in difficulty, but in just making standard practice chordal barks sound vicious and charming eons after Chuck Berry, The Stones, Stooges, or AC/DC tapped them. Plaskett serenades in proclamations like a nympho Chris Martin, just skipping the extra stellar rhetoric and elemental attention. No desperation, no adolescent paranoia - just a lot of sex, some mystery, a little bit of heartbreak, and makes it sound all so easy.
His blues are thin and lucid, not howling like a Clapton-type. It's sharper, and bar room compatible like any great Steve Miller Band record. From the bouncy "Lights Down Low" it's obvious that Plaskett has read all the books on Alex Chilton when that Byrds-y chorus-ridden strat rides in over those three part harmonies and thick, chilly, hip shaking arrangement. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this Novia Scotian can wield a fine show with his axe. The direct-electric lead break on "The Day You Walked Away" could take any Zep freak back to Side Three of Physical Graffiti. All this while still sitting comfortably under the cashier counter at Starbucks, between a collection of Stones Live -70s rarities and that acoustic recast of Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill.
Yet, to any alpha-rocker's chagrin, the trio never lets it truly rip leaving one to wonder what going full throttle would feel like. Like both great Big Star albums, Truthfully Truthfully winds down and gets personal - sometimes a little too down beat and at other times, a little too personal. "What am I to do in the face of a disaster?" he asks his audience of beer buddies and cappuccino freaks alike, himself searching for a sweetheart on "You Came Along". A simple yet essential question most of us are asking ourselves after a year of hurricanes, war, and double-decker bus bombs. He may have only been looking to get laid in the good ol' pre-Katrina days of -03, but at least we can so easily pretend his world consciousness prophetically saw this all coming.
Copyright © 2006 Matthew DeMello