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Joel Plaskett | 44

The Halifax singer-songwriter goes big on his latest high-concept release.

Joel Plaskett contains multitudes. So no wonder he creates them too. For those who aren’t already up to speed, his latest release 44 is the concept-loving Halifax singer-songwriter’s biggest project since the triple-album Three a decade ago: A set of four distinctively different discs featuring 44 songs recorded in four different cities with 33 guest musicians, released on the last day of his 44th year. Clearly, that’s a whole lot of Plaskett. But if anybody can pull off a flex like this, it’s this restlessly and relentlessly eclectic and prolific artist (and former Thrush Hermit frontman). Not surprisingly, it’s got a little bit of everything and a little something for everybody: Rock and pop, country and folk, loud and quiet, electric and acoustic, earthy and spacey, sincere and silly, gems and duds, studio and live, full-band productions and lo-fi solo fare. It can and probably should take you at least a few weeks to soak it all in, get it all down and pinpoint your favourites — so far, I’m kind of partial to the harder-rocking second disc and the eccentric and experimental fourth disc. But I’m sure that will change in due course. Thankfully, we’ve all got plenty of time to dig in before he ups the ante with 555 in another 10 years.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “On April 17, the day before his 45th birthday, Joel Plaskett will release 44. A conceptual follow-up to his Juno-winning triple record, Three, 44 is a visionary project comprised of four 11-song records, packaged together and connected thematically. Four years in the making, the songs were recorded in Dartmouth, Memphis, Nashville and Toronto with 33 different musicians. Musically, 44 showcases many of Joel’s talents, and the hallmarks that have established him as one of Canada’s best known contemporary songwriters. Catchy rock and roll, delicate acoustic ballads and sonic production experiments bounce around the albums, all held together by Joel’s unique and inimitable lyrical style. Varying themes run across the records, but at its heart, 44 is an imaginative, musical rumination on trying to slow down and grow up in a rapidly accelerating world. The first album, 41: Carried Away, is a traveling record. It starts in Memphis with the song Collusion, old memories colliding with the present and the journey begins. The second album, 42: Just Passing Through, playfully evokes the feeling of returning home to an unfamiliar landscape, while, 43: If There’s Another Road, is an introspective, nighttime transition from lost to found. The fourth and final album, 44: The Window Inn, documents the arrival at a personal destination, summed up in the last song, A Benefit 4 Dreamland. 44 is Joel Plaskett’s most ambitious and imaginative endeavor to date. It is a project that will reveal itself over time, its scale and intention standing in sharp contrast to the fast paced, short-form digital world we navigate daily.