Steven Page and the Art of Time Ensemble – A Singer Must Die


Steven Page’s first post-Barenaked Ladies (BNL) work comes with a bit of intrigue. It was somewhat shocking when Page announced he was leaving his band to pursue more creative fare and it seems a bit incongruous that his first attempt at solo stardom is a cover album with The Art of Time Ensemble. Still give them credit for choosing an interesting list of songs to interpret — including curiously a BNL song. Page has always been an underrated vocalist. This idea has potential right?

For an album that could’ve gone either way A Singer Must Die goes the wrong one. It’s a classic case of a good idea ruined by employing every possible wrong decision. The Art of Time Ensemble’s re-jigging of these songs errs on the side of jumpy over-thought instrumentation while Page indulges his operatic side. One of the two would need to reel themselves in to make this thing work and neither does. This is most evident on Elvis Costello’s “I Want You” and the aforementioned BNL song “Running Out of Ink.” But those aren’t the worst of the missteps — they save that for the album’s conclusion.

The group’s take on Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” is shockingly ridiculous. Like the worst kind of off-off-off-Broadway musical theatre its unbearable schlocky melodrama is at first confusing then irritating then unlistenable. When’s that new BNL record coming out?