Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CD of the Day, 5/25/11: Shout With Grass-Will of Man

If you're a big fan of Sloan you know that the Canadian band has four singer/songwriters of nearly equal ability, a key to their greatness. I've always thought they should each release solo albums (maybe simultaneously a la KISS), and among the four my favorite has been keyboardist Jay Ferguson, who seems to write the purest pop songs of the bunch. But until that day comes, the closest thing we're going to get to a Jay Ferguson solo album is the full-length debut of countryman Max Sensini, who records as Shout With Grass.

Will of Man builds on the promise of his 2009 EP And Then Again and is a pop delight. Like Ferguson (whom Sensini also resembles vocally), his songs are piano-based but not overly showy as many other piano-based poppers tend to be. "Hey Bird" opens things in a low-key Lennonesque fashion, reminiscent of "Imagine" or his solo piano version of "Free as a Bird", while "With the Queen" is a bouncy slice of pop that swings to the McCartney side. The lightly orchestrated "Think of Me" is another standout, as is "Walk the Tightrope" a carryover from the EP that earns its encore on the full-length.

The best thing I can say about this disc, though, is the uniformity of quality among its 10 tracks, and it closes as strongly as it finishes with the catchy "Woman", the dreamy "Hole in the Sky" and the majestic title track. Sensini has emerged as a real pop talent here, and if I leave this one off this year's top 20 feel free to shoot me an email reminding me to listen to it again.

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