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NOW Toronto – Album of the Week: The Park Avenue Sobriety Test

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As long-time followers of Canada’s beloved Joel Plaskett know, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based singer/songwriter wears many hats: grindin’ rock ‘n’ roller, knee-slappin’ bluesy folkie, sentimental acoustic crooner. His latest solo effort finds him compressing those multiple personalities into a 13-track record. But unlike 2011’s wide-reaching compilation of rarities, demos and B-sides (also excellent in its own right), Park Avenue Sobriety Test is a cohesive package.

After two decades of music-making, the 39-year-old sounds as comfortable on Celtic fiddle ditty On A Dime as he does covering a century-old protest song or wearing his heart on his sleeve on acoustic torch song When I Close My Eyes. Over the years, he’s fine-tuned the precious balance between humour and cynicism, winding them together with a catchy riff. It all makes Park Avenue Sobriety Test the quintessential Plaskett album – and a good entry point for new fans, too.

Top track: When I Close My Eyes

Joel Plaskett Emergency play the Danforth Music Hall on May 22.