Sunday, May 8, 2011

Turning over a new page

As of 2/24/2009, the singer of today's disc announced he was no longer a Barenaked Lady - a band he was part of for 20 years.  Would he sound as good on his own?  Steven Page answers with a resounding yes with his solo debut "Page One".

Steven starts at a brisk run with "A New Shore", a bouncy, lighthearted track peppered with references to starting fresh - even a few thinly veiled maybe-jabs at his former bandmates, like "I forget if I was pushed or I jumped overboard" - whether they are jabs or not, it still starts the album off great.

From there, the songs give the listener a kaleidoscopic view of the subjects and sounds that were often at the heart of Page-sung numbers in BNL.  Indeed, "All The Young Monogamists" plays like a could-easily-be sequel to 2 previous Page-sung BNL tracks - the innuendo-laden "In The Car" and the later coworker-hotel-room-lovefest/regret play "Conventioneers" with the wild and crazy couple of the first 2 songs now settled down and happy together, cracking knowing smiles at each other as they watch younger people get into the same romantic messes they did.  Page even gives his former bandmate Robertson a run for his money with "Over Joy".  Heart-worn-on-sleeve songs are not easy to pull off without sounding like a whine, but Page manages to make it look easy with this track.

"Page One" is an uneven effort in places - "Leave Her Alone" has a strange horn-driven big-band blast that doesn't quit slot in with the rest of the album.  It gets back into more classic Page just a few songs later with the conformity-skewering "Queen of America".  And while much of this albums' music has a proud-peacock-strutting energy pulsing through it, humility takes center stage with the closer "The Chrous Girl" - or the could-be-confessional "Entourage".  

Bottom line, Page takes the pop chops he honed with his years in the Ladies, and lets his own ideas stretch out for a mature, quirky ride through friendship, love, and everything in between.  He may not be a lady any longer, but this disc is reason to hope "Page 2" will arrive in the future.

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