A. C. Newman - Shut Down the Streets
If you're a fan of The New Pornographers then you're likely already aware of A. C. Newman's solo output. Occupying the same sweet, agreeable indie sonic space as TNP records (and so many other 'cool Canada' bands), Newman's third solo spin away from his time spent as King Porno is sure to please fans - and may come as a nice surprise to the vaguely curious.
It starts as it means to go on over ten tracks, opener 'I'm Not Talking' blending Coldplay's recent pop optimism with melody and lyrics straight from The Shins's songbook. In fact, Newman's vocal is throughout a dead ringer for Shins frontman James Mercer, frequently aided by female backing from fellow Pornographer Neko Case. Although the boy/girl harmonies threaten twee overload, there is enough songwriting craft here to celebrate. Lush synths 'n' strings backgrounds mount personal lyrics, 'Strings' and 'Hostages' directly alluding to the birth of Newman's first son; however, while new life is at the heart of the album, it ends with an affecting tribute to Newman's departed mother 'They Should Have Shut Down the Streets' in a show of the songwriter's skill. A minor joy.