Charles Spearin The Happiness Project

While Spearin's success as Broken Social Scene's proudly moustached multi-instrumentalist may have allowed this album to debut in front of a wider audience, the real heart beating here comes from his long relationship with Do Make Say Think. Take the gorgeous "Marisa," where the skittery drums and repeating guitar are beautifully integrated with the main purpose of this Project, which, to massively simplify it, is translating the human voice to music. But the best moments are when Spearin moves beyond the transcription, allowing the voice to bloom on its own, with Spearin and friends instead creating a sonic atmosphere that allows us to hear what Spearin hears. This is accomplished best on "Mr. Gowrie," where the titular man's scratchy accent contains much life and Spearin wisely gets out of its way, deftly manipulating the voice and background ambient noise. While this Project isn't perfect, it has enough original and surprising moments to make even the busiest soul a little more contemplative about life. (Arts & Crafts)