When Joel Plaskett sings anything, I can’t help but instantly take notice and feel like it’s the most important thing that anyone has ever said. I buy into everything he believes as quickly as I bought into the melodies on his new album Scrappy Happiness. Right from the opening track “Lightning Bolt” when his crunchy guitar assaulted my ears I was sold on whatever he was about to sell me with the following nine songs.
The album is exactly what you would want and expect with a Joel Plaskett record: it has epic songs with powerful guitars, somber songs that remind us of simpler times and the lingering feeling that you’re listening to something that society will look back on in twenty years and celebrate. This record deserves only love and admiration because it’s incredibly obvious that’s what went into it. It’s not often a songwriter can convey such a wide array of emotions in a manner that seems so effortless. It feels like I’m sitting around a campfire having a beer with a lifelong friend who is singing the most thoughtful thing he can think of on the spot. This record is completely devoid of sarcasm, pretension and bullshit. All that remains are some of the most honest, genuine songs I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.
With lyrics like “One look into the looking glass/Baby there’s no turning back” and “It’s 1985/I am yours and you are mine, mine, mine” Plaskett appeals to my sensitive side. While aggressively delivering lines like “It’s not your fault/This life’s a lightning bolt,” he makes me want to chug a beer and sing along as loud as I can. It’s his ability to navigate between the two that makes this record so refreshing and such a pleasure to listen to in any situation. I also am completely taken by the element of nostalgia found in every song. Lines like “The skies will turn from pink to blue/The years will turn to sand/The needle’s dropped on Husker Du/They were my favourite band,” take me back to a time I wasn’t even alive for and yet am somehow amazingly fond of. Each song becomes a perfectly captured moment in his life that allows listeners an inside look at a man who has experienced a lot.
To me, Joel Plaskett is a Canadian treasure that we are lucky to call our own. However, with the power and elegant grace he delivers with this record, I can’t imagine that statement being true for much longer.
LFP Verdict: Buy It Right Now! Sell An Organ If Necessary