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Jason Darling

Settling Dust

(Surprise Truck Entertainment; US: 18 Jul 2006; UK: Available as import)

Jason Darling grew up around Woodstock. Yes, the older Woodstock, not the “mud people” NIN-memorable version. But don’t let that fool you, there’s no retro-hippie vibe here. Just a collection of decent pop-rock numbers like the radio-friendly “Wind” and the tender, roots-based “Always” that features a pretty harmony. Darling seems to make the most of each song, although “Flowers” tends to wilt near the homestretch. A better effort comes along during the slow, mournful “Thief”, despite the rather ordinary lyrical content. Think of a George Harrison C-side and it should become clearer. There’s also a certain hint at early Pink Floyd which becomes readily apparent with a cover of Floyd’s “Fearless”, that takes the song up a notch or two in terms of tempo. It’s a credible rendition though. Meanwhile, “Systems” is a piano-driven pop tune that has a nice hook and is not overtly edgy. Another gem, and maybe the crowning achievement on the album, has to be the very barren “Top of Her Stars”, with its Lanois-like production. It could also be mistaken for something left off of Tom Petty’s She’s the One soundtrack. Unfortunately, Darling lets the air out of the album with a terribly slow and rather aimless “Hold On”.

Rating:

Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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