Jason Falkner

Necessity: The 4-Track Years

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Jason Falkner's excellent third solo release may be subtitled The 4-Track Years, but that doesn't mean the album is a mishmash of throwaways and unfinished filler. On the contrary, even when his songs are "all crackly and intimately recorded in various apartment-bed-living rooms" -- as the liner notes describe the album's demos and rarities -- Falkner plays pristine power pop that's radio-ready from the get-go. From the opening Matthew Sweet-styled "She's Not the Enemy" to the closing "I Go Astray," the ex-Jellyfish member doesn't let a single dud creep onto Necessity. His are songs that jingle-jangle like Sloan and resonate with the emotional weight of Michael Penn. And while nearly half of these songs are original versions of previously released songs, consider their inclusion less a lazy way to fill the album's 45-minute running time than a closer look into Falkner's superb songwriting. After all, when someone's odds 'n' ends are better than many musicians' final polished products, listeners should be so lucky as to acquire them.

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