Joel Plaskett


BY Vish KhannaPublished Mar 26, 2009

Never short on ambition, Halifax, NS's Joel Plaskett has curiously released one of the most focused records of his catalogue by sprawling songs over a three-record set. To his great credit, once Plaskett is inspired by a concept, idea or turn of phrase, he commits completely, and the results are often great thematic records like In Need of Medical Attention or La De Da. 2007's Ashtray Rock tested fans a with its lyrical focus on teenland anxieties and varied sounds from disparate genres, and the idea of Three - a triple-disc collection of songs with titles like "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Rewind, Rewind, Rewind" - seems both charming and silly. Again though, Plaskett's sincerity as a songwriter and taste as a musician shine on a cohesive, contemporary folk rock record with wonderful flourishes. Vocalists Ana Egge and Rose Cousins are alluring foils for Plaskett on the Jeff Lynne bounce of "Through & Through & Through" and the plaintive "Safe in Your Arms." There's electronic drums propelling "Wishful Thinking" but Plaskett's frequent nods to pop R&B are eschewed for more traditional folk fare. Surprising and infectious at every turn, Three is simply a great reminder of Joel Plaskett's singular talent and gutsy artistic drive.

What inspired Three?
I had a bunch of songs where the title was the same word three times. There were all these other tunes kicking around, which were kind of related in their own way and I thought, "Well, maybe it's got to be a triple-record." I set up a studio in Dartmouth with an old two-inch tape machine and recorded it myself. It kind of evolved naturally but once I had the idea in my head, it was just connecting the dots.

Even with 27 songs, the record is cohesive.
I'm happy to hear that. There are a few things where, if you put them right side by each, it would seem wildly different but then, with the way the record flows, it kind of takes you to each of those moods, you know?

And you're exploring different folk styles?
There's definitely some Maritimes music on there. My dad's British and my mom's Scottish, and I grew up around a lot of British traditional folk music. So there's some fiddles and tin whistles that people definitely associate with this part of the world in Canada. I just had a batch of tunes I felt could be treated this way. I love those instruments; they're powerful.

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