It may be impossible to give a fair review of Shane Koyczan's Debris. It's so colossal, both in size and emotion heft, that it requires repeated listens to even begin the process of absorbing and parsing its contents. As he dissects himself and his feelings, Koyczan goes so deep as to turn the personal into the universal, giving voice to truths, both beautiful and hideous, all humans feel somewhere in our bones.
Koyczan's a poet, in the purest sense of the word. He's not a singer, nor is he a stand-up comedian, but he exists somewhere in between the two. His rhythmic, singsong voice jumps seamlessly between dire seriousness and joyous playfulness, breathing life into his poetry. Backing troupe the Short Long Story, along for the ride once again, provide the perfect sonic grounding for Koyczan's words, augmenting the feeling when needed and cradling into the background when the words need some extra space to breathe.
There's something in Koyczan's words for everyone. There are wildly deep nuggets of wisdom buried throughout, like "Laughter should be honest: If there's no sincerity in your joy, then your happiness will be a forgery that only fools you," (From "How to be a Person") and sharp referential humour like "This is gonna be hard for some of you to hear, but, fuck Yoda. There is try" (From "Pinned to the Dish").
With the amount of content here — twelve tracks, with the shortest clocking in at 4:11, the longest at 9:10 — you're bound to find something to inspire you on a shitty day, help you deal with death or ground you in an ever-maddening world. Debris might be too much for some listeners to take in all at once, but it's a timely, important piece of work. (Independent)