Release Date: Sep 25, 2012
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
From the upbeat jaunty reggae of “I Want to Rob a Bank” to the moody introspection of “When Things Go Wrong” and the lovely string quartet enhanced “Pacific Blue,” Toronto’s Jason Collett is difficult to musically pigeonhole. There are clear references to the Beatles throughout these 15 tracks, and even if the album is mainly about loss and the results of a sagging economy on the working class, the songs never sink to the downbeat morass of its socio-economic subject matter. On the contrary his voice, somewhat like John Lennon’s, is boyishly refreshing even when the music is as stark as the gracefully strummed acoustic guitar of “Talk Radio,” a touching look at a working man whose “life is collapsing” as he asks no one in particular “what is happening to me?” He even taps into Ian Hunter’s mid 70s glam on the very Mott-ish “My Daddy Was a Rock ‘n Roller.
On Reckon, Jason Collett sings about robbing a bank. Despite being a piece of art born of the Occupy movement, there’s nothing in the 15-song cycle to suggest that the musician has the heist in him. Permanently set on “saunter,” these songs’ clever structures are often overshadowed by their aw-shucks delivery. It perks up when Collett enlists the help of an orchestra—as with “Jasper Johns’ Flag”—but too often it’s simply a case of less, not always more.
More than a few American songwriters have been weighing in on the troubled state of the nation in the election year of 2012, and Jason Collett (best known for his work with Broken Social Scene) confirms similar anxieties are brewing north of the border in Canada as he takes a long, hard look at North American malaise on his album Reckon. As the Occupy movement poses questions about global economic equality, Collett takes a jaunty but pointed look at the lives of the haves versus the have-nots in "I Wanna Rob a Bank," while the exploitation of Third World peoples for their minerals and jewels is an undercurrent in "Black Diamond Girl," the economic and environmental impact of oil exploration informs "Miss Canada," "Talk Radio" is a brief but affecting look at one man watching the world and the culture he knows crumbling around him, and the troubling state of the world as summarized in "When the War Came Home" and "Don't Let the Truth Get to You. " Politics isn't all Collett has on his mind on Reckon, but there are plenty of other signs here of a world where ethics are in short supply -- the unfaithful husband of "Ask No Questions," the oblique musings on patriotism in "Jasper Johns' Flag," the lover's lament of "You're Not the One and Only Lonely One," and a lifetime of disappointment hovering in the air in "When Things Go Wrong.
If nothing else, Jason Collett deserves brownie points for elegance. “I didn’t set out to make a record with these overtones, but neither did I try to stop it,” he’s said of the Recession-inspired snapshots on his latest album, Reckon. “I just did my best to avoid the shrill rhetoric that makes most political songwriting unlistenable.” When measuring Reckon in these terms, it’s a resounding success.
As the masses gathered in protest at Zuccotti Park last September, under the Occupy Wall Street movement, Jason Collett was entering the studio at home to record a new album. And although politics rarely make an appearance in Collett's music, the Broken Social Scene alum was particularly struck by the effects that the economic crisis had across America, as he witnessed first-hand while touring his last album, 2010's Rat A Tat Tat. Reckon is a product of Collett's observations, personal reflections and frustrations with the economic turmoil we're still dealing with today.