Ned Collette

Jokes and Trials

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What immediately grabs the listener on Ned Collette's debut record is his overwhelmingly familiar, likable voice. This applies both to his literary voice--the exact lyrical mood of a casual ode to friendship like "Song for Louis"--and also his actual voice, a big, loping, throaty baritone that fills in the blank spaces of these austere songs like sunshine through an empty house. This is a friendly and remarkably endearing record, with a surplus of the sort of casual intimacy that greenhorn singer-songwriters typically eschew in favor of esoterica or melodrama. One does not really want much more than Collette and a guitar here, and one does not get it. The few embellishments thereupon--graceful percussion in the album's final moments, a bounding synth solo on "Boulder"--show the sort of instrumental intuitiveness Collette would exhibit more comprehensively on his follow-up record. Here, though, nothing obstructs the listener's engagement with the singer, creating a spare but fitting place to get to know someone.

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