Review by Brian McGowan
Gone is the poetry slam of debut solo, Hunter’s Lullaby. That innovative, spoken word / hip hop approach marked out Raine Maida as an artist who, when stepping away from the relative rock conventions of Our Lady Peace, was willing to take a few chances. And while follow up, We All Get Lighter sees a return to the soaring, dipping falsetto we know and love, the songs are framed still within the monochrome of spare acoustics, with colourful flourishes of drum, bass, brass, bgvs and a string quartet brightening the picture.
The public record shows that Maida is a man of conscience, a man who would be comfortable mounting the barricades. But with WAGL, it’s up close and personal, with Maida building an album on the foundation stones of growing up, guilt and redemption.
Nowhere is his catholic guilt more evident than on opener, ‘How To Kill A Man’, arguably a public confession, “reminding me I’ve sinned”. The sense of regret is palpable, the sense of anguish penance enough.
Very much the nimble lyricist, Maida jumps from earnestness to humility in a sentence, from troubled artist to well balanced conformist in a line. ‘Rising Tide’ just about holds back the flood, an admission from Maida that he’d rather regress into childhood than face an increasingly violent world.
On the other hand, in ‘Not Done Yet’, recognising that the burning ambition of youth is now dimmed, he vows to fan those dying embers back into life.
Weighty issued don’t preclude good tunes of course. There are plenty of smoky, sinuous melodies wending their way round songs like ‘SOS’, expertly layered with brass and gorgeous harmonies. And ‘A Drink Of You’, a wracked, haunting tale, sung over an hypnotic mesh of soughing cellos and wailing backing vocals.
But it’s first single, ‘Montreal’ that stands out above the others. A piano, brass and vocals ensemble piece that’s wintry, wistful and upbeat all at the same time. Maida gilds the song with a sturdy hook and intriguingly, a convincingly ambiguous vocal, leaving more questions than answers.
You could argue that We All Get Lighter is a sombre reflection on mortality, but the more you listen, the more you realise that it’s about life and living.
Fine album. Recommended.
9 out of 10
- How To Kill A Man
- Rising Tide
- Not Done Yet
- This Is Gonna Hurt
- A Drink Of You