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Jon McKiel
The Nature Of Things
Wednesday Records
www.jonmckiel.com


There's something about Jon McKiel's new album that is a bit reminiscent of the '90s. Not the flannel wearing Seattle bands you're prone to think of, but the chunky guitars and general overall tone of that era. Plus, McKiel's voice sounds a lot like Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket; quintessential 90s.

The Nature Of Things kicks off with "War On You" - a great opener that foreshadows what's in store, with guitars, horns, and a little heartbreak. "1 2 3 My Friends" follows and boasts Whiskeytown harmonies and a snare drum that sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage. The same follows for the majority of the album.

One thing you won't find is a shortage of sad, lonely lyrics. McKiel seems like he's going through some shit. You have to wonder what his music would sound like if things were coming up roses. Lyrically, it's obvious that he's writing from a pretty unhappy place. "Walking With The Dead" gives itself away with its title and almost seems to be a plea to a friend - "Don't die."

McKiel does a great job bouncing between single acoustic guitars and full bands and all of it sounds really well produced. "Get Caught" and "Stars Get Their Courage" are good examples. McKiel even gives a shout out to his partnership with the Culture Division of the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage. And who wouldn't?

I have to say my only gripe about this album is the hidden track. It's one thing to have an unlisted bonus song tacked on but I think we can do away with the old-school hidden track buried beneath 12 minutes of silence. Right? It's probably the most annoying thing to have come up on your ipod. And it's even worse when the song at the beginning is good, because then you don't want to delete it. But the hidden track is some half-baked b-side. Such is the case here where the acoustic never meets its accompaniment and McKiel goes on about "a bird in the valley" while digital bird sound effects chirp in the background.

Otherwise, great album.

-Jon Murray


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