Published May 29, 2015There's nothing new on the José Contreras EP — a collection of Spartan versions of older tunes by the veteran By Divine Right frontman — but it's a sweet, intimate offering from one of Canadian indie rock's most celebrated songwriters, and something nice to hold fans over until his sophomore solo record comes out later this year.
It's a testament to Contreras's songwriting chops that the songs here work just as well stripped to bare bones as they ever did on his previous records. There's little more than just a voice and acoustic guitar on most of these tracks, and the bedroom demo vibe works to lend some extra weight to earworm pop ditties like "I Love a Girl" and "Mutant Message." The big fuzz of tunes like 1997's "Blind" is slowed down and backed up only by overdubbed harmonies and some catchy but reserved guitar riffs. By the time things come to a close with the gorgeous Good Morning Beautiful track "Dedication," it feels as if you're eavesdropping on a private performance, with some short recorded conversation between Contreras and his in-studio partner. "My fingers hurt," he says before strumming the opening chords. "We rollin' over there?"
It's a pretty little compilation of some great Contreras tunes, but more of a fun companion piece to his main body of work than anything else. (Squirtgun Records)