Barenaked Ladies: All in Good Time


RIYL: Camper Van Beethoven, Moxy Fruvous, The Housemartins

From the outside, it always looked like the Barenaked Ladies got most of their goofy humor from Ed “One Week” Robertson, and most of their moody depth from Steven “The Old Apartment” Page – so when Page quit the band last year, it might have seemed safe to conclude that subsequent BNL albums would contain a lot of tongue-in-cheek rapping and punny wordplay. Creative dynamics are never that simple, of course, but it still may come as a surprise to many fans that BNL’s first post-Page effort, All in Good Time, contains some of the band’s darkest, most mature work.

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Even better, Time goes a long way toward correcting the blandly pleasant drift of the Ladies’ recent efforts, restoring some of the bite and emotional depth that lurked beneath their sunny pop hooks. For the first time in recent memory, Barenaked Ladies sounds like an honest-to-goodness band here, and not just because songwriting credits are split relatively democratically between Robertson and his fellow remaining BNLers (Kevin Hearn, Tyler Stewart, and Jim Creggan). There’s an organic, lived-in feel to these performances that shines through the band’s usual production gimmicks; even the album’s requisite rap number, “Four Seconds,” sounds more authentically funky.

There are a number of tracks that sling arrows at departed friends and lovers, and it’ll be hard for fans to resist the temptation to wonder how many of them were inspired by Page’s absence. “I tried to be your brother / You cried, and ran for cover,” Robertson sings on the opening track and leadoff single, “You Run Away”; later, he spits “Can you forgive me for / What I had to do? / I’d use a metaphor / But I’m done with you” in the charging “I Have Learned.” But how truly personal these songs are isn’t as important as the breadth of their appeal – and both of those tracks offer more resonance, boast more feeling, than the band has shown in years. The same is true for much of the rest of All in Good Time. Call it addition through subtraction. (Risin’/EMI 2010)

Barenaked Ladies MySpace page

  

Kevin Hearn and Thinbuckle: Havana Winter

Let’s face it – solo albums can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, they’re often an outgrowth of un-served creative expression and an opportunity to reveal a side of the musician that’s otherwise buried in the group mix. On the other, they can also be nothing more than an indulgence in excess, an artistic statement so far removed from the mainstream that only the most diehard fan or hardcore eccentric would dare dally in the overflow. Fortunately, keyboardist Kevin Hearn’s individual offerings fall in the former category, and after five albums that offer some respite from his day job with Barenaked Ladies, he’s managed to carve himself a pleasant little side niche. There’s little of the Ladies’ kookiness or quirkiness to be found here, although the lead-off track, “Coma,” does come close (“It’s time to come out of your coma”). Mostly though, Havana Winter is a fairly sunny – and sedate –affair, one that manages to conjure up the same sort of giddy effusiveness often identified with groups like the Lilac Time, the Lightning Seeds, and others of that more melodic ilk. The cooing caress of “On the Runway” and “Luna” provide an irresistibly engaging ambiance that makes return listens practically mandatory, while the rollicking “Huntsville, CA” picks up the pace and applies a certain perky proviso with it. If there is any complaint to be made, it’s that with only seven songs, Hearn is skimping on quantity even though he’s clearly over-delivering in quality. Regardless, Havana Winter is a wonderful revelation and one that suggests Hearn ought to be heard from a lot more. (Six Shooter Records 2009)

Kevin Hearn MySpace page

  

Steven Page leaves Barenaked Ladies

Even though it seems like Barenaked Ladies has run its course, the news that lead singer Steven Page has left the band is still a little surprising.

Singer-guitarist Steven Page said a big reason he decided to leave the Barenaked Ladies was he felt his songwriting voice was occasionally being squeezed out as a result of being in a five-member band.

A day after he announced on the band’s Web site that he was leaving the group, Page said the Barenaked Ladies has so many songwriting voices that he’s looking forward to a future as a solo artist.

“Frankly, the band itself was a five-way democracy and one of the great things about it is that it’s been about the five-way collaboration, but it’s also one of the things that’s made me decide to be a solo artist,” he said Thursday.

BNL just seemed like one of those bands that would be together forever.

  

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