Joel Plaskett Emergency, Ashtray Rock

Joel Plaskett Emergency, Ashtray RockIf I hadn't read any interviews prior to hearing Joel Plaskett's fourth release I wouldn't have realized that Ashtray Rock was a fully fledged concept album, because every track, on their own, are outstanding. Ashtray Rock's narrative revolves around a torrid love story about two guys in a band who fall in love with the same woman, and as a result, their friendship and band disintegrate. With this solid storyline Plaskett's secret to creating an effective concept record is his complete lack of pretension, and his deft musicianship as he follows the songs natural groove. Tracks like first single "Snowed In/Cruisin'," "Drunk Teenager" and "Instrumental" are all perfect examples of this and recall Plaskett's earlier riff-laden rock, complete with shout-out choruses and retro '70s vibe. But what I really love about this record are Plaskett's rock ballads ("Face of the Earth" and "Chinatown/For the Record") where he brilliantly balances the right amount of sappiness, sincerity and hope. With not a single weak album to his name, Plaskett has the reputation as one of Canada's most creative songwriters and on Ashtray Rock it sounds like Plaskett is just hitting his stride. (Maple Music/Universal)

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