The Argosy’s Media Reviews

Joel Plaskett – The Park Avenue Sobriety Test (Pheromone Recordings, March 17)

Gabrielle Papillon – The Tempest of Old (Pigeon Row, March 24)

After over 20 years in the music business, Maritime celebrity Joel Plaskett has once again done what he does best. His highly anticipated album The Park Avenue Sobriety Test (‘PAST’ is its an acronym) offers a bit of a walk down memory lane, both for Plaskett and his listeners.

“I got some kind of fucked-up illegitimate blues,” Plaskett croons on the album opener. The quiet little acoustic number might seem a dismal way to start an album, but listeners are quickly jolted from this short and pensive moment by the blast of Celtic fiddle in “On a Dime.” From there, Plaskett offers listeners a tour through the many styles of his career, starting with a more upbeat rock in the toe-tapping “Alright/Ok.”

Fans of Plaskett’s previous work will be happy to hear echoes of his original style and sound that so many first fell in love with. However, listeners will also be pleased to discover that Plaskett has continued to grow and develop as an artist.

At first glance, the album may seem cheerful and goofy – like many of Plaskett’s previous hits – yet under the surface lies some deep and delicate material. Park Avenue gives listeners a glimpse at a new side of the Maritime icon as he transitions through a significant point in his life

– Lily Mackie

Don’t be fooled by Gabrielle Papillon’s folky guitar rhythms and sultry vocals – this Halifax-based singer-songwriter bolsters her casual coffeehouse style with an orchestral, often mournful backdrop of instrumental echoes.

To call this album haunting would be an insult to ghosts. The opening track, “Got You Well,” is like something out of Laura Marling’s murky, distortion-tinged nightmares. “Brother, Throw Down” is similarly undergirded by meandering harmonies and an ethereal bluesy quality, while “Cradles” takes a more poppy turn with its driving tempo and lilting vocals. The Tempest of Old ends with the chiming pulse of “Well Beneath,” which is as raw as a Feist tune and as lulling as the ancient waters for which the album is named.

Papillon has a carefree, honest quality to her voice, and she revels in a few inconsistencies that add to, rather than distract from, the experience of her music. Rather than taking a rainy drive through the Nova Scotia countryside, one could experience a similar lyrical image conveyed by Papillion’s most recent music.

– Daniel Marcotte

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