Faith & Science
First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2008, Volume 15, #2
Written by John Metzger
Thu February 28, 2008, 07:30 AM CST
Shane Nicholsonís latest effort Faith & Science isnít a bad album, per se, but itís not a great one either. In fact, coming after the promise he demonstrated on his solo debut Itís a Movie, the outing is a bit of a letdown. In a move that is, perhaps, emblematic of the problems plaguing Faith & Science in general, Nicholson takes a stab at covering Tom Waitsí Big in Japan. However, instead of embracing the growling, industrial clatter that made the tune such an effective opener to Waitsí 1999 gem Mule Variations, Nicholson extinguishes the songís fire by straightening its crooked, cacophonous edges, thereby turning it into run-of-the-mill pop fare.
Unfortunately, this is par for the course throughout Faith & Science. Despite its provocative title, Nicholsonís lyrics largely wallow not in the fertile fields of burning, socio-political controversy but rather in the safer terrain of relationships that either are struggling to come together or are falling completely apart. Even when he does muster the courage to delve into the psychological warfare of love and hate, the arrangements in which he places his words have the effect of removing much of their sting.
Like Glen Phillips, Nicholson shades his delicate melodies with flourishes of country, folk, and rock, but considering how many artists are playing the same game, it can be difficult to give his work a distinctive flavor. To his credit, he adds an array of atmospheric touches to the set in order to invoke a sense of uneasiness, but just as often, he sounds emotionally detached from his work. Even guest appearances by his wife Kasey Chambers and Midnight Oilís Jim Moginie fail to enliven the proceedings. In the end, the material on Faith & Science, pleasant as it is, fails to leave much of a lasting impression. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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