Published Jun 03, 2016If Joshua Winstead appears as a related artist to Metric on streaming services, it's because of affiliation, not sound. On his debut solo album, MMXX, Winstead uses the imperial rather than the metric system. He doesn't follow Haines' dissonant "surf off a cliff" piano progressions; instead, he picks up his guitar.
MMXX comprises 11 soulful tracks that are at once introspective and dynamic. The album's single, "One Heart," is a swaggering, R&B-influenced jam that captures Winstead's tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve and espouse values like unity, as he does on the simple line "We're two lovers baby, but we got one heart." Such lyrical content could come off as pretentious, but Winstead's sincerity is felt throughout the song. The singer/songwriter immediately switches styles but maintains a serious tone with the folksy, Simon & Garfunkel-inspired "Beautiful Prison," a sweetly sad, musing number that displays Winstead's impressive acoustic guitar chops and quickens slightly with slide guitar and drums toward the end. Then, for the first time throughout MMXX, Winstead takes a cue from Metric's Emily Haines on the synth/piano ballad "The Time It Takes," a darker and more experimental tune that still fits in with the rest of the album.
The record takes a bit of a dip, unfortunately, with the too-sexy "Poison Cup," during which Winstead alludes to Shakespeare and croons the sappy cliché "All I need is you." On "The Streets," though, Winstead gets back to themes that seem to matter most to him: humanity, unity and love. The song has that solo vibe of the singer alone with his guitar that, like "One Heart," seems to come from a deeper place, with meditations on being: "Who are you and what are we? / We are people, people."
On MMXX, Winstead's at his best when he's pulling from his own experiences, testing the range of his ideas over the fruits his talent has yielded. (Royal Cut Records)