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


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