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Jason Collett - Motor Motel Love Songs

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Artist: Jason Collett

Album: Motor Motel Love Songs

Label: Arts & Crafts

Review date: Jan. 23, 2004

Jason Collett is a chameleon. The guitarist and songwriter from Broken Social Scene can sound like just about anybody in the modern rock lexicon; he delivers like Elvis Costello, wheezes like Ryan Adams, and rambles like Bob Dylan –instantly memorable and strangely nondescript. He’s country in a city way and indie rock for parents. He doesn’t want to reinvent any wheels or dazzle via studio frippery. He’s just writing soft, slow songs about love and shit.

For instance, in “It Won’t Be Long” Collett sounds like a wound singing to a knife. Over a lone acoustic guitar and pianet he encourages a hesitant lover, “You’re afraid of fire, you don’t get too close, you’ve been burned before. But you know this is more than just smoke.” Peppered with drums and a whistled solo, “It Won’t Be Long” is the second most dramatic moment next to the title track, “Motor Motel Love Song.” In this piano-driven ballad, he proves his mettle as a lyricist, intimating one small image after another, telling a beautiful story without introducing any characters.

It’s not all forlorn crooning and broken-hearted ballast, though. “Tiny Ocean Of Tears” finds Collett treading water in a big ocean of ’60s pop nostalgia. With bright guitars and snappy drums, the two and a half minutes breeze by without interest or alarm. “Stormy Woman Salty Girl” wins the best Richard Ashcroft song never written by Richard Ashcroft. Which is to say that it’s a good, big ballad replete with lustrous strings, tension, and release. “Lucky Star” is a hook-laden, shambling tune with a simple repeated coda and a case of the “doo-doo-doo’s”.

Motor Motel Love Songs is brimming with affection for its influences, but Collett isn’t overwhelmed by reverence to any particular idol. This one to Wilco, that one to Tom Petty, this one for every Canadian who ever wanted to be born in Middle America (Collett resides in Toronto). And it doesn’t outstay its welcome at a svelte 42 minutes.

Two hits of the snare on the opening “Bitter Beauty” and Collett delves into a country pop groove: “All the flowers fade and all the stars pale as this bitter beauty grabs you by the tail” And such is the story of Motor Motel Love Songs; a collection of songs that grabs hold and tugs, not too deep, but just deep enough: each friendly and evocative; sturdy and poetic; forgettable but good.

By Daniel Ryan

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