Joel Plaskett

In Need of Medical Attention

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In Need of Medical Attention could be tossed off as Thrush Hermit unplugged, but Joel Plaskett -- Hermit's former lead vocalist and primary songwriter -- makes sure the similarities are minimal. He strips down his material to its most sparse and naked, and adds introspection and intimacy to his expressive yet simple songs. The low-quality production gives the recording a rough, rustic feel, which only adds to its allure. Laced with humor, yearning, regret, apathy, sarcasm, wit, and love, Plaskett's thoughts are courageously, confidently plunked down on this drowsy, somewhat awkward, and ultimately poignant album with nothing to hide or fear. The acoustic yet anthemic "Weigh It Down," the sparse but emotional "The News of Your Son," the country-tinged "I'd Rather Be Deadly Than Dead," and the title track are among the best songs, and "Goodbye Doctor" fades with the pretty, echoey lyric "a gentleman of God." (The album is in memory of Plaskett's late grandfather, a physician.) In Need of Medical Attention is ephemeral, heartfelt, and brave. It characterizes the thin and wiry Plaskett (who had health problems of his own in 1999) emotionally and physically in one recording: delicate but resilient, spare yet multilayered, and achingly honest.

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