By Liam Prost
When you’ve entered ‘do no wrong’ territory as Haligonian singer-songwriter-rocker-poet Joel Plaskett has, expectations become outrageously high. In response to the obvious pressure, it seems Plaskett has been making less and less grandiose records as time goes on. The worst thing you can say about 2015’s Park Avenue Sobriety Test is that it’s small. The titular song referencing a particularly sharp turn in a backstreet in Dartmouth, NS; smallness is not the record’s curse, only its caveat.
Solidarity is a similarly small release, bringing in his English-born father for co-singing and song writing duties.
Bill Plaskett’s contributions are traditional and unpolished. Listening to Bill’s wheezy delivery almost feels like listening to one’s own dad. Unlike Joel’s beatnik Canadiana lyricism, Bill’s writing is gooey and straightforward, warmed in the corners by glowing new-folk arrangements. There’s a reason why the dad is billed (pun intended) first as well, the record is almost evenly split between who leads each track, a conceit that does more to introduce us to Bill than to add more to Joel’s legacy. But the record’s most inviting moments are when the duo are singing together, most notably on the smile-inducing title track: a protest song with cheek-to-cheek Nova Scotian earnestness. An unobtrusive fiddle anchors the song in tradition, while the younger Plaskett picks up the song with a sly guitar solo near the end.
Solidarity is profoundly unpretentious. No one would blame you for dismissing it as insubstantial, but to do so would be to ignore the joy of small, friendly, family music.Bill Plaskett, Joel Plaskett, Solidarity