Imaad Wasif Imaad Wasif

Scoring himself a sweet deal touring as a fourth member of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, not to mention getting the gig as their opening act for as long as he’s on the tour, BC-born Imaad Wasif has certainly built a name for himself since playing in alaska!, the New Folk Implosion and lowercase. The timing also couldn’t be better for him to release this, his debut self-titled solo album. Though miles and miles away from the YYY art punk principle, Wasif definitely has the chops capable of writing simple acoustic arrangements with his lone acoustic guitar. He wouldn’t sound out of place coming through the speakers of your local coffee house, but Wasif’s motive is to keep the mood despondent, which may not work for Starbucks. His songwriting style falls somewhere in between the gentle quivering folk of Damien Rice and the classic, poetic vision of Leonard Cohen or Tim Buckley. For the most part, Wasif relies solely on the warm hum of his guitar and his genteel voice, as witnessed best on "Fade in Me” and "Out in the Black.” There are a few more layers — fuzz guitar, piano and a light set of drums — on "Coil” and partially on "Whisper,” but he seems to feel his comfort level is strongest when stripped bare. Alas, Wasif’s ability is in the pristine sound he achieves, and unfortunately, not in his actual songwriting. His inability to pen even one song that connects with the listener the way Rice or José González can continuously proves he still has a ways to go. But the potential’s there inside him, you can sense it, and when he finds it he’ll be scoring Volkswagen ads in no time. (Kill Rock Stars)