Jason Collett | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jason Collett

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With his new album, Idols of Exile (Arts & Crafts), Broken Social Scene guitarist Jason Collett emerges as a prime mover in Toronto's ongoing creative boom--the album's crammed with great pop hooks but sounds so effortless it's tempting to think he made it in his sleep. Fact is, he had a lot of help: Collett interacted with like-minded colleagues as the organizer of an ongoing Toronto songwriter showcase, Radio Mondays, and he's joined on the album by members of (among others) BSS, Apostle of Hustle, Metric, and Stars, as well as Leslie Feist, who headlines this show. His conversational vocal style--a narcotic delivery that reminds me of his Toronto peer Ron Sexsmith--is the right vehicle for his lyrics, usually ruminations on romantic misdeeds and shortcomings that are full of sharp observations. In "Hangover Days," a duet with Metric's Emily Haines, he sings, "I tried to send you a postcard," to which she laconically responds, "But all you could write were apologies"; in "Almost Summer" the narrator recalls a booze-and-weed-fueled night during which a hookup goes badly ("Then suddenly you're puking out the door / With your pants around your knees") with a mix of bemusement and tenderness. The dynamic arrangements, driven mostly by piano and acoustic guitars, evoke the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan in loose folk-rock mode, but Collett's songs have a catchiness those icons didn't always achieve. In their own way, the tunes on Idols of Exile are just as dense as Broken Social Scene's chaotic onslaughts, but Collett's manner is intensely focused and restrained--it's one of the funniest and most memorable records I've heard in the past year. Fri 1/27, 8:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212, $15, 18+.

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