The first time I heard Jason Collett sing was in 2004 at The Maintenance Shop in Ames. He was opening for Fiest, who had released Let It Die earlier that year. This tour came in between Collett’s Motor Motel Love Songs and Idols Of Exile, and I knew within a couple songs that I’d be buying every record he ever puts out.
I often refer to Collett as the Canadian Tom Petty, and it isn’t a declaration I shy away from. His songwriting is top notch, be it a soft ballad or a rock anthem built to be played in arenas and romantic comedies alike. He uses his voice like a true artist and doesn’t waste time with riffs or lyrics that don’t work.
On his newest release, Reckon, Collett is back to it but on a much bigger scale. For the most part his songs have always been about love and loss. On Reckon he steps back to view the larger world and gives us songs about the downfall of the world economy and despicable politicians who lie to advance their careers.
There isn’t anything on this album that comes close to the singular awesomeness of “Not Over You” off 2008’s Here’s To Being Here. I do think as a whole Reckon is a much better record than Rat A Tat. It holds off on the big numbers for a more intimate feel-mainly sticking to guitar and vocals with some soft embellishments like steel guitar and piano.
Collett also loses most of the pop sound he’s been going for with his last couple albums, sticking to a more folk-like sonic palate. There are exceptions, like the Beatles-esque “When The War Came Home,” which features a strings section and organ. Collett’s vocals are also a little different on this one, taking on a sound that is eerily similar to Ryan Adams.
It’s hard for me to really review a Jason Collett album because I love him so much. I would never tell you to not check out one of his records. He works with Broken Social Scene a lot (which by law, in Canada, if you play music you must be credited on at least three BSS songs), so if you dig them you should check him out. He’s a bit more country/folk than BSS, but his musical ability transcends genre. Along with Reckon, Collett also released a retrospective greatest hits compilation called Essential Cuts. If you’re unsure about liking him, check that one out. Unlike most albums with the word essential in the title, these songs really are absolutely needed in your library.