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Album Review: Jason Collett – Rat A Tat Tat

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For his latest solo album, Jason Collett has found a place between shamelessly recreating the sounds of the old and completely reinventing a genre, and he is comfortable recognizing a laundry list of creative forces while still remaining true to a spirit of reckless musical abandonment and a personal duty to his own career arc.

Unlike many others, Collett has sense of humor about his influences; “Rave on Sad Songs” finds him doing his best country-fried Dylan. It’s off-putting at first, but with additional listens, you see he wants to show there’s something to explore in the ruins that modern music has been built upon. But that ethos isn’t always so pleasing. “Winnipeg Winds” is a song where the Dylan worship hurts; what’s a lonely and deserted blast of ghostly wailing and ultra-sorrowful musicianship is bogged down by a Droopy impression.

“Lake Superior” feels like it was made in the ’70s after your standard balls-to-the-wall acid trip. But there are other small elements that make it feel several galaxies apart from originals and rehashed modern-day tracks. With vocals like George Harrison’s, the song is filtered through the lens of a more contemporary influence, The Flaming Lips. There’s kind of an absurdity to the noise, an unidentifiable vibe permeating through the sluggish guitar that further demonstrates Collett’s ability to combine various sounds and trademarks. “Love Is A Dirty Word” is the first half’s most musically interesting little gem. It’s a throwback to a simple pop song a la John Mellencamp, but there’s some kind of doo-wop backing vocals, with the instrumentation being a blend of light folkloric guitars and an odd mechanical piano/keys part with this dirty rhythmic guitar. It’s an oddly danceable beat that best exemplifies his dedication to himself, everyone, and nothing. “Bitch City” is a bit of the same, some of that funky ’70s rock that has to work together with vaguely electronic elements. But it’s more open with the flirtation, leading to a pre-ending cacophony of spaced-out synths that melt right back into Collett’s distinctly rural vocals.

“Cold Blue Halo” is as experimental as previous amalgamations, but it feels much more resonant and warm, not just sounds for the sake of exploring. Collett’s voice steps up to an ethereal high (for him), and the backwoods guitar and elegant piano line build upward. With the punctuation of roaring noises, things get sinister, furthering your auditory embrace of those more sweet and wholesome sounds. Here, the call of a picked guitar sounds like a wild animal, and the gentle banjo and lullaby backing vocals are like a setting sky. He’s created a whole Dreamtime-esque world with a few small plucks. “Love Is A Chain” also creates a whole kind of universe around it. It spins like a disco track and is heavy on the horns. But with a drumline like some galloping horses and plenty of sex appeal to it, it’s a great example that you don’t have to be an audiophile to get down to Collett’s stuff.

“Long May You Love” and “The Slowest Dance” also have less going on musically. They’re a couple of stripped-down jams where everything is, save for a few tweaks here and there, in line with any standard rock meets country made by anyone from Kris Kristofferson to other Collett peers in the U.S. and Canada. While these less-experimental songs are not as interesting as others, the joy and uncertainty of those boundary-pushing tracks make for an album that is above and beyond those of similar singer-songwriters without ever forgetting the importance and core fundamentals of the music that surrounds them.

Check Out:
“Love is a Dirty Word”

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