Jason Collett took a break from Broken Social Scene in 2005, choosing instead to focus on the promotion of Idols of Exile alongside his backing band, Paso Mino. Here's to Being Here arrives three years later, featuring a slimmed-down lineup (only Paso Mino and a small handful of guests lend their help) and an emphasis on dusty, '70s AM radio songcraft. Bob Dylan's raspy vocals and slow enunciations are an obvious influence here, but Collett's willingness to mix straightforward Americana with genre-bending experiments is more akin to a pre-Subtitulo Josh Rouse. These 12 songs are lightly embellished with pianos, handheld percussion, harmonicas, and multiple guitars, resulting in an organic mix that sounds worlds apart from the bombastic racket of Broken Social Scene. If that band's ethereal noise seeks to elevate the audience, then Here's to Being Here works at keeping the listener grounded in the highways, farms, and fields of Collett's image-heavy lyrics. He paints pictures like a storyteller, mapping out his songs with the names of roads and characters. And when Collett decides to truly relax, as he does on the mischievous "Out of Time," the results make for some of the disc's best moments. High-pitched coos gatecrash the song's chorus like they've just been kicked out of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," and a harmonized keyboard solo injects a bit of the Steve Miller Band into an otherwise minimalist, Southern-styled slow jam. Such unexpected moves seem to be a new thing for Collett, and they combine to make this his strongest solo effort yet.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey