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Three To One

As far as the story goes, as he reached the ripe old age of thirty three and a third Haligonian songsmith Joel Plaskett sat down and wrote Three, a triple album. Three Discs, three booklets, 9 songs per disc (3×3). Even the original release date for the record 24/3/09 was divisible by three. Oh, and of course it was his third solo album. The album garnered Plaskett his second Polaris prize nomination in 2009 (his first being for Ashtray Rock in 2007). Already established as something of a cult hero thanks to his early 90s band Thrush Hermit, Three has only served to raise Plaskett’s profile in his native land. With an awareness that a triple album might be an intimidating introduction for some listeners, Three has become Three to One for the UK release, bringing together 13 of the full albums tracks on to one disc.

Opener ‘Deny, Deny, Deny’ kicks things off with a sprightly pop swing, guitars jangling and fiddling that moves it towards the more bluegrass territory. Forthcoming single ‘Through & Through & Through’ follows, a rock’n’soul outing with parping horns and boy/girl call and response lyrics. ‘Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’’ is a footstomper built on a frenetic banjo line and more call and response with Anne Egge and Rose Cousins. It isn’t all bluster though, ‘New Scotland Blues’ finds Plaskett playing solo, picking out delicate melodies on his guitar, while ‘Safe in Your Arms’ demonstrates the kind of downbeat melancholy that should make fans of Eels or Beck’s Mutations and Sea Changes albums take notice.

Three to One is intelligent pop music writ large melodies that get stuck in the head for days afterwards, set the toes tapping, and accompanied by some neat turns of phrase and a sense of humour. It may not be revolutionary, or particularly original (a fact Plaskett acknowledges as the keyboard boogie-woogie rhythm starts up on album closer ‘Wishful Thinking’) but there is an easy charm and feel-good familiarity about Plaskett’s songs, and Three to One serves as a fine introduction to his lovingly crafted work.