Jason Collett – Rat a Tat Tat

Rating: ★★★½ ·

Many people will recognize the name Jason Collett for his involvement in Broken Social Scene, but this is not his first foray into solo work. Rat a Tat Tat is Collett’s fourth official album, and it has all the trademarks of his previous work, while also stepping forward into a bit of playfulness that wasn’t present on earlier recordings.

Opening this album, you find Jason dealing with relationships in his own way.  “Rave On Sad Songs” reveals his prowess as a songwriter of heartfelt tunes, something probably not accredited to his role in BSS. It’s a soft spoken song relying upon soft piano and very gentle guitar strums, which allow his distinctive vocals to tug at your heart.

Such mellow numbers were commonly featured in his last few releases, especially Idols of Exile, but as you move into tracks like “Love is a Dirty Word,” you find that Collett has gotten a little bit more lively.  As the bass line seems to shake your body, Collett delivers his idea that love is not quite all its cracked up to be.  Bouncing rhythms haven’t always been his forte, but he pulls it off here, showing that he’s got room to grow as a songwriter.  The idea that Jason is out to goof around a bit with his audience is only made stronger when you listen to “Bitch City,” which has a vocal performance reminiscent of Devandra Banhart, not to mention the subject matter.  Oddly, that same vocal effect shows up once again at the end of the album “Vanderpool Vanderpool,”  something that wasn’t noticeable on his earlier releases.

On his last record, Here’s to Being Here, we saw him exhibit a little bit of straightforward polished pop.  He still brings those lighthearted moments to this album, on songs like “Cold Blue Halo.”  There’s a fuzzed out keyboard groove that opens the number illustrating his widening set of tools, some provided by his longtime backing band, Zeus.  All that being said, the tune has a bit of foot shuffling feel to it, something sure to win out in the live setting. All playfulness aside, Collett still has the ability to write quiet numbers that find their way into your regular listening rotation on iTunes. “Long May You Love” and “Winnipeg Winds” are two songs that illustrate this point perfectly, as both have the steady stroll of acoustic pop moments attached. “Winnipeg Winds” creates an effective wind motif with the howling vocal backing that haunts the song when Jason is not at the helm.  One can assume he’s added these quiet moments to the record in hopes of keeping a perfect balance, and he succeeds in accomplishing that feat.

Focus at this time is surely on the upcoming BSS release, but aside from that project, it’s clear that Jason Collett has his own style and his own agenda to push.  Rat a Tat Tat is just another record that demonstrates what a strong songwriter he is, proving that he grows stronger as his music evolves.  Sure, it’s a lot more fun than previous works, but by making that change, Jason balances out this record, giving himself more options to write great songs in the future.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/jasoncollett-loveisadirtyword.mp3]

Download: Jason Collett – Love is a Dirty Word [MP3]

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