Rat A Tat Tat by Jason Collett

If you are familiar with Jason Collett, then his latest album, Rat A Tat Tat, likely won't surprise you. That doesn't mean, however, that it isn't full of excellent music. Collett has always been rooted in the 70s, and this album simultaneously pays tribute to his influences and pushes the boundaries on his own sounds; even though you can tell what, and who, inspired him, it never sounds derivative or ripped off. The Broken Social Scenester is joined on his fifth solo album by some excellent musicians, including (but not limited to) all four members of Zeus, Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas) and Jason Tait (of The Weakerthans).

The album has an incredibly laid back feeling, like it was conceived and recorded on a lazy summer day, and that is immediately apparent. "Rave On Sad Songs" starts stripped down and acoustic-y, but gains momentum adding instruments and backing vocals for a lush ending. From there is launches into the more upbeat and hypnotic "Lake Superior", which grooves perfectly into the brilliant bass line of "Love Is a Dirty Word", an insanely catchy song that is impossibly not to at least sway along to. "Bitch City" seems completely effortless, as it slows down again while Collett drawls "You gotta walk light when you're stepping in shit".
The sexy "High Summer" is a great example of how Collett firmly roots his music in Canada, (seamlessly) working in a mention of Penetanguishene, ON and -- singing of a summer fling -- the lines: "so we pushed off in her canoe / and she showed me what a real Canadian can do, oh my".
"Cold Blue Halo" could easily be a forgettable track, but Collett weaves layer upon layer of autoharp, wurlitzer piano, banjo, moog synth and backing vocals that draws you in. From there, "Love Is a Chain" is another high energy and playful song which could easily be the albums next single and "Long May You Love" and "The Slowest Dance" are both a little more basic tracks; the former having a galloping beat that builds to the chorus where Collett's voice soars and the latter sounding like they were just flat out having fun. I wouldn't be surprised if that one was recorded live off the floor. The moody "Winnipeg Winds" is dark and as chilling as the title implies, again drawing strength from its layers and the album comes to a close with "Vanderpool Vanderpool" which may not be the best choice to wrap things up, but is certainly not a bad song. Again, feeling laid back, it sneaks in some Spanish guitar flourishes before the song slowly, and almost lazily, jams to the end.

Throughout the whole album, Collett oozes confidence and charm, and it all just seems so effortless. Possibly because where he seems strongest is his craftsmanship. While he is not without his musical talent, or captivating voice, what drives the album -- and what sets him apart from any other "indie-folk" artists, if that is what you want to classify him as -- is the composition of the songs. Be they dense & layered or stripped down & minimalistic, they always seem to be the perfect fit.

Download Bitch City

Download High Summer

Download Love Is A Chain

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