In “Lightning Bolt,” the opening track from his previous album, Scrappy Happiness (2012), Joel Plaskett sings, “This is our only chance/ For some happenstance.” Now, on the verge of turning 40, the Nova Scotian rock veteran has decided to keep the temporal meditations coming on his latest album, Joel Plaskett & The Park Avenue Sobriety Test.
With the lyrics “Pressure’s on/ Pressure’s on” in the first soft-toned track “Illegitimate Blues,” Plaskett introduces and contextualizes this major album theme. The following track “On a Dime” abruptly breaks the sombre mood created by the opener with the nostalgia-evoking lyrics and the the inclusion of a fiddle, and the upbeat rock tone continues with “Alright/OK.” Halfway through the album, the listeners get to dive into softer acoustics with tracks like “When I Close My Eyes” and the wonderful “Captains of Industry.” However, the inconsistent shifting between genres can be confusing for first-time listeners, as it is difficult to comprehend Plaskett’s style.
The album’s strength lies in its lyrics. By paying close attention to them, the album begins to take shape and Plaskett’s overarching themes give it some unity. Overall though, it makes for fairly easy listening and would be a good accompaniment for a relaxed drive along the highway on a beautiful, sunny day.