Someone mentioned the other day that Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu once lived in the same road in Soweto. Who the third greatest man on the street was, history doesn’t relate, but it’s a safe bet he didn’t get the credit he deserved. It must be nearly the same in Canada, where any blossoming singer-songwriter inevitably wilts a little in the shadow of Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, three of the all-time best. Nova Scotia’s Joel Plaskett is a reasonably big noise there, though, and if he isn’t in the top league at 35, he’s in a strong second division with Ron Sexsmith, Bruce Cockburn and others. Three To One, a slimmed-down version of a triple album called Three, is a really vivid sampler of Plaskett’s craft. Mixing Celtic strummers and nimble power-pop, then throwing in clever vocals, it harbours a wit and earthy drama that makes you wonder how his name hasn’t got out before.
by Adam Woods