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Steven Page | Discipline: Heal Thyself Pt. II

The Barenaked alum mixes pointed politics with personal revelation on his latest solo set.

It doesn’t always have to be about you. That’s something most people learn during the course of life (notable exceptions: Politicians, CEOs and their offspring). And it’s apparently a notion that overtook Steven Page during the making of Discipline: Heal Thyself Pt. II. Reportedly, the Barenaked alumnus was putting the finishing touches on the sequel to 2016’s Heal Thyself Pt. 1 | Instinct when political upheaval in his adopted homeland made him rethink his approach. The result is a biting, passionate disc that minces no words when it comes to human failings — be they his own or those of his fellow Americans. As for the latter: White Noise tackles racism and the cultural divide with acerbic lyrics like “Throw away the Bill of Rights / For anyone who isn’t white,” and “Let’s have a second Civil War / That’s what the Second Amendment’s for.” Gravity takes a poke at those who choose faith over science: “Calculus and astronomy / They pale aside to Deuteronomy / We banned the drugs and the sodomy / And now we fixed the economy.” He even has a few choice words for himself and his fellow musicians in Where Do You Stand, asking, “You think your band’s fans / Need a line in the sand? … How long can you keep holding your breath / When you know silence equals death?” In short: Lyrically, Discipline is practically punk rock. But musically, it’s nothing short of multi-disciplinary. Page’s knack for marrying even the most eccentric lyric to an instantly catchy melodic hook remains undiminished. But in keeping with his previous solo releases, his more esoteric and freewheeling inclinations push him far above and beyond the buoyantly quirky folk-pop of his youth. These dozen cuts fearlessly flit between sounds and styles: Shuffling ’80s synth-rock, spiky-guitar new wave, horn-laced ’50s doo-wop, slinky bossa nova and samba, big band jazz and classical pop and more — they’re all here. And all more seamlessly integrated than you might expect from such an eclectic lineup. Finally, despite its darker moments — several songs unflinchingly address and confess painful failings as a husband and father — Page wraps the disc on an optimistic note with the self-explanatory Looking For the Light. The healing continues.

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