It’s time you were reintroduced to Jason Collett. It’s not that you won’t recognize him, the stalwart solo troubadour, the member of Broken Social Scene that doesn’t quite ‘fit in,’ the sage workaday tunesmith amongst experimental indie popsters. No, Collett is still the same, he’s just now “Super Collett,” a nearly exaggerated version of himself, bigger than life and busting at the seams. Rat a Tat Tat is not only the name of Collett’s latest album, it’s the machine gun like sound that heralds his arrival, a warning shot, with Jason, Tony Montana style, hoisting his guitar and saying, “Say hello to my little friend.”
Everything seems sharper and sleeker on Rat a Tat Tat. Even the more relaxed tracks seem somehow more intense. The barroom singalong of “Rave On Sad Songs” almost out-Dylans Dylan while also channeling Neil Young. “Lake Superior” simply jams. The electric guitars (could that be Andrew Whiteman I hear?) are more fuzzed out and charged than ever before on Collett’s releases, the drums a pure reggae party. “Love is a Dirty Word” strays even further afield than most of the others, an infectious bassline adding to a purely ’80s funk-meets-roots aesthetic.
The album takes its name from a line in “Bitch City,” another Dylanesque number, plucked more likely from the same musical Aether as tracks on Blonde on Blonde. Most of that might be due to Collett finding a backup band and production team in Zeus, playing Danko and Robertson to Collett’s Dylan. “High Summer” and “Cold Blue Halo” only add to the Dylan comparisons, though links can be made to Ed Harcourt or Patrick Park in the higher registers.
Songs on Rat a Tat Tat are fuller and more realized than tracks in Collett’s past. At times, they may not be better. There is something enticing and beautiful in the simplicity and organic quality of tracks such as “We All Lose One Another” and “Out of Time.” But, to dismiss this newly found richness of sound would be a grand mistake. The Stones-esque soul of “Love is a Chain,” followed by the Eagles flavor of “Long May You Love” are equally aurally stunning as they are different from each other. And, for the best Ray Davies impression you’ve ever heard, listen to the fun closer, “Vanderpool Vanderpool.”
There is something about this album that would make it fit in several different generations of classic rock. The aforementioned late ’60s Dylan era, the early ’70s Coldwater Canyon sound, the later ’70s blue-eyed soul are but a few places that Collett could call home. Rat a Tat Tat takes more daring steps, reaches farther and stretches out more than any of Jason Collett’s previous albums. Purists may balk, but they did that with Dylan too. Look how that turned out.
Bob Dylan & the Band – The Basement Tapes
Patrick Park – Loneliness Knows My Name
The Mendoza Line- 30 Year Low / Final Reflections of the Legendary Malcontent