[3 September 2014]
PopMatters Music Editor - Canada
Canada is increasingly becoming a multicultural nation, and singer-songwriter Bruno Bin, who records as Shaky Knees, is a prime example of how people from foreign countries are knocking at the door of the country. Bin was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but came to Canada at the age of 20 and hewed a path all over the country as lead guitar player and frontman of rock band Inner City Elegance. His debut disc as Shaky Knees, Seven Years, is hardly shaky at all, and that’s not surprising based on his résumé. The album is a close-to-30-minute blast of lilting folk rock and bracing rockers. What particularly works is that the record alternates between soft songs and louder stuff, showing a mastery of sequencing. Indeed, it’s hard to get bored with Seven Years. And there’s a lot to really enjoy, from the bluesy “Momma Believed” to the straight-up heartland rock of “American Kid”. Bin shows a deft hand when it comes to songwriting, and his material really covers the map, which will definitely please people who like variety.
It’s hard to say anything negative about Seven Years, and it’s surprising to hear something this refined and acute from what is essentially a small independent release. However, Seven Years does indulge in Jack Johnson-esque “hacky sack soundtracks”, such as opening cut “Make It Last”. Personally, this style of music is not my cup of tea, and you may have a much different opinion. Still, despite that, Bin’s infectiousness and positivity shines through his songs, and his optimistic style of guitar playing makes for a short album full of sunbeams and rainbows. Plus, Bin has a soulful and pleasing vocal style, which makes this all go down smooth. Shaky Knees is a gripping find, and Bin deserves all of the success that anyone can throw at him. The fact that Seven Years shows such a range makes Bin a new and vital force in Canada’s singer-songwriter scene. Chances are, with any luck, we’ll be hearing a lot more from this guy in the years to come, and he certainly plots out a likeable career path with Seven Years, making one wish that the next album comes just as seemingly quick and naturally as this one.