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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Steven Page, 3 Doors Down, Jeff Buckley, Rita Wilson and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2016

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Steven Page

"Heal Thyself, Part 1: Instinct"


Grade: A

"There's a melody somewhere inside of me," Steven Page announces at the start of his new solo album, but it's been a minute since the Barenaked Ladies co-founder, who left the band in 2009, has shared any of that music externally. It's been five years since his last full-length album, "Page One," although it was the two-song 2012 EP "A Different Sort of Solitude" that paired Page with Craig Northey of the Odds, his creative partner on the sublime pop pastiche of "Heal Thyself, Part 1: Instinct." That "Part 1" reference indicates just how prodigous the partnership is, and this first volume does pop proud with its sophisticated, advanced song structures and and rich popcraft, as well as the wry wit and quirky melodic sensibilities he displayed from the start of BNL. The 11-song set also nods towards his recent work in theater, particularly on tracks such as "Here's What It Takes" and "There's a Melody II." "The Work at Hand" nods to Page's New Wave rots while "Manchild" mixes wah-wah guitar and Beach Boys harmonies and the single "Surprise Surprise" is an upbeat rocker that aptly captures the album's sense of self-examination as Page sings "I knew what was wrong with me long before you did." "Hole in the Moonlight," however, is the highlight, with its lush, swelling construction and driving guitar solo. As Page sings early on, he's "doing what I'm meant to do," and it's good to see his "Instinct" for finely crafted pop music is still intact.

New & Noteworthy:

Jeff Buckley, "You and I" (Columbia/Legacy): The late singer-songweriter`s first sessions for Columia are unearthed, featuring covers of songs by Bob Dylan, the Smiths, Led Zeppelin and more.

Brian Fallon, "Painkillers" (Island): The first solo album by the Gaslight Anthem frontman was produced by Butch Walker.

Shooter Jennings, "Countach" (Black Country Rock): The latest from Waylon's son features collaborations with Marilyn Manson, Brandi Carlile, Steve Young and more.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, "Something Real" (Royal Potato): The latest release from Willie Nelson's progeny, which is also now doing double time as Neil Young's band.

3 Doors Down, "Us and the Night" (Republic): The "Kryptonite" group's first new album in five years steers the band in a more pop-flavored direction than its predecessors.

Rita Wilson, "Rita Wilson" (Sing It Loud): Tom Hanks' wife's second album features originals rather than covers and a more pronounced country/Americana flavor than 2012's "AM/FM."

Also Out: Aurora, "All My Demons Greeting Me as A Friend" (Glassnote); Citizen Way, "2.0" (Fair Trade Services); Flatbush Zombies, "3001: A Laced Odyssey" (Glorious Dead); Christon Gray, "The Glory Album" (RCA Inspiration); Keith Harkin, "Oh Mercy Street" (Blue Elan); Randy Houser, "Fired Up" (Stoney Creek); Information Society, "Orders of Magnitude" (Hakatak); Killswitch Engage, "Incarnate" (Roadrunner Records); King, "We Are King" (King Creative); Julian Lage, "Arclight" (Mack Avenue); Lucious, "Good Grief" (Mom & Pop); Morbid Saint, "Spectrum of Death" (Century Media); Parchute, "Wide Awake" (Vanguard); Penny & Sparrow, "Let a Lover Down" (Single Lock/Thirty Tigers); Robert Pollard, "Of Course You Are" (Fire America); The Wild Feathers, "Lonely is a LIfetime" (Warner Brothers); Pete Yorn, "Arranging Time" (Capitol)

From The Vaults: The Cars, "The Elektra Years 1978-1987" (Elektra/Rhino); Johnny Cash, "Unchained in a Rusty Cage: New York Broadcast 1996" (Zip City); Cheap Trick, "Raising Hell: The 1970s" (FM) and "Turn On The Radio: 1980s" (FM); Bobby Darin, "Another Song on My Mind: The Motown Years" (Real Gone); Miles Davis, "The Lost Broadcast" (Left Field Media); The Doors, "Tightrope Ride" (Laser Media); Waylon Jennings, "Return of the Outlaw" (FM); Lynyrd Skynyrd featuring Charlie Daniels and Dickie Betts, "The Lost 1978 Broadcast" (FM); Dave Mason, "The Columbia Years: The Definitive Anthology" (Real Gone); Willie Nelson and Leon Russell, "Riding the Northeast Trail" (FM); Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Atlanta Sunset" (FM)

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