Joel Plaskett – Three

Maple Music

With music sales skewing ever more towards downloadable singles over cohesive albums double- and triple-albums are all but an anachronism. Every year though a handful of artists buck the trend and devote themselves to the creation of bloated artistic statements. The latest to take up the challenge is Canadian folk-rock crooner Joel Plaskett.

His new album Three spans three discs and 27 songs many of them with symmetrically thematic titles like “Through & Through & Through” and “Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’.” Even though this sounds like a conceptual disaster the first disc is outstanding. Plaskett tackles mainly acoustic country and blues and rips through some of Three ’s most uproarious moments even if in some places as on “Pine Pine Pine” Plaskett’s put-on country drawl is a little grating. “Through & Through & Through” complete with call-and-response backup vocals is the album’s best song by a long stretch.

A certain amount of filler should be expected in any triple album. Still Three ’s second disc takes this to extremes — the majority of the disc consists of slow-paced doe-eyed rumination something that Plaskett’s previous albums kept confined to small doses like La De Da ’s “Love This Town.” The third disc gets things back into gear with “Precious Precious Precious” and “Deny Deny Deny” the former featuring some of the album’s only electric guitar the latter going with country-folk foot-stomping and fiddle. Ultimately Three ends strongly but by the end it’s hard to remember how it started.

A lot of Plaskett’s charm comes from his seemingly off-the-cuff approach to songwriting but in Three he seems meticulously concerned with pop melodies and song structures and the album’s personality suffers for it. The scale of the album suggests it isn’t meant to be consumed all at once. The problem is large chunks of it don’t need to be consumed at all.