David Usher

Morning Orbit

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The lead singer of Moist, David Usher's second solo album (after 1998's Little Songs) in many ways could have simply been released as another Moist album. Not only is the overall sound remarkably similar to their melancholic 1999 release, Mercedes Five and Dime, but Usher has invited all of his bandmates to contribute to the majority of the songs. Four-fifths of the band play on the album's first single, "Alone in the Universe." Regardless of whether one considers Morning Orbit to be a solo or group effort, the fact remains that either way, this is a fine, well-crafted album. Beatlesque album-opener "How Are You" provides a good introduction to what the album offers: mellow, somber, thoughtful contemporary rock/pop. Morning Orbit showcases a veritable who's who of the Canadian contemporary rock scene, including Jag Tanna and Bruce Gordon of I Mother Earth and the Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair. However, the most unexpected guest on the album is Canadian reggae rapper Snow (author of 1993's worldwide hit "Informer") on "Joy in Small Places," a collaboration that ends up sounding far better than it has any right to be. Usher's cover of Tracey Chapman's "Fast Car" is another winner. While still instantly recognizable, Usher tweaks it just enough to make it his own. Although coming to prominence as a typical angst-ridden alternative rock band in the early '90s, Moist and particularly Usher have demonstrated continued growth with each successive album and are developing their own unique sound and identity. Although some of the songs tend to sound too similar to each in mood and tempo, this is a small complaint. Whether solo or in a group, Usher's future looks promising, and fans of Mercedes Five and Dime and acoustic pop/rock are recommended to pick this one up.

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