Review Summary: Relaxing folk ballads blended with some soft rock are at the crux of Three, but ultimately it’s Plaskett’s ability to hide “3’s” all over this record that overshadow the actual music.
Joel Plaskett, at 33 and 1/3 years old, entitled 3 songs on his new release with 3 repeating words. Being a bit obsessive compulsive, he found it difficult to stop the trend. He decided to record a triple CD release, entitled Three
, with 9 songs apiece, all with their independent styles and concepts. He may have gone a bit too far, far, far, as one of his song title’s suggests, but it’s an interesting concept at least, even if it is borderline gimmicky. Folk ballads blended with some soft rock are at the crux of Three
, but ultimately it’s Plaskett’s ability to hide “3’s” all over this record that overshadow the actual music.
The first disc, complete with apt song titles such as “Gone, Gone, Gone,” and “Run, Run, Run,” focuses mostly on the theme of leaving. Pop rock is the dominant feature here, especially with the first three ditties, “Every Time You Leave,” “Through & Through & Through,” and “You Let Me Down.” One of Plaskett’s strengths is ability to layer vocals, and he uses it almost to a fault. In virtually every song there’s faint vocals in the background, either Plaskett’s or his female partners in crime, Ana Egge and Rose Cousins, making a threesome of vocalists. Plaskett’s songwriting is usually a little mundane on Three
, but the first disc holds a few exceptions, and is by far his best, as he tries to convey those feelings of departure,
“Gone, gone, gone/That's your middle name/Every night's the same/My love, count 'em down/3, 2, 1, you're back around/You close the door, you don't make a sound/But 1, 2, 3 and you're leaving town.”
On the next disc, Plaskett attempts a mood shift, but gets caught somewhere in the between. His once-happy ditties turn into songs of a quieter nature that started to put me to sleep, but not in a Sigur Ros- way. The sense of optimism and setting out on one’s own is dead and buried, and instead we’re left with a Plaskett singing himself asleep and wallowing in his loneliness. Let me take that back, that was a bit of hyperbole. You see, herein lies Plaskett’s most obvious weakness on Three
. While he sets out to create 3 completely independent concepts and moods within his triple-disc release, his attempts at diversity fall flat on their faces.
Yes, Disc 2 is slower and more subdued than the others, but other than that, there’s not much to be said. Plaskett’s tone remains helplessly dissimilar and homogenous, a bit boring. By the time Plaskett attempts to recreate the feeling of “return” on the last 9 songs, I’ve grown weary of Three’s
sameness. Furthermore, Plaskett brings the album to a close with a 12 and a half minute song that drags on and on and on, as the title alludes to very well. Limited by his genre, Plaskett fails to realize that a folk-rock song just doesn’t work for 12 minutes.
Three was ambitious, but falls victim to the sameness that plagues Joel Plaskett's song titles. While he comes up with an interesting concept and a theme I wouldn’t mind hearing, with the “departure, loneliness, return, thing,” it isn’t executed very well with a suffocating 27 songs. Narrow this down to another multiple, Joel, perhaps something reasonable like 12 or 9, and I’ll be much more willing to listen. As bad as I want to give this a “3,” at the same time I don’t think Three