Though erstwhile Broken Social Scenester Jason Collett states that Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan are his primary songwriting influences, his solo output to this point has been characterized by its occasional lapses in internal editing and a weakness for stunt writing. But his latest effort, Here’s to Being Here, is far and away his most streamlined record and, as such, is the one that draws the most obvious parallels to his idols. Bringing in far fewer guests from Broken Social Scene than on his previous efforts and writing lyrics that surprise for being so concise, Collett’s focus shows a greater control of his craft. That he affects a throaty drawl on tracks like “Roll on Oblivion” and “No Redemption Song” makes the album’s Dylan homage all the more obvious (in many ways, it sounds like a lo-fi version of The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter), but it’s to Collett’s credit that his songwriting generally holds up to the direct comparison. While he’s able to turn an indelible phrase (“Out of Time” boasts the stellar couplet, “On a rainy day highway/In the melancholic autumn/I got the most nostalgic feeling/I’m gonna hit rock bottom”), Collett is at his best on songs that toy with straightforward narratives like “Sorry, Lori” and “Nothing to Lose.” Even though the album’s production aims for and achieves a vintage AM radio sound, Collett’s willingness to subvert the conventions of songwriters like Dylan or Kristofferson makes Here a definitively modern record and perhaps the first of Collett’s solo albums to sound like a real classic.
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