Pondering Loss

Jason Collett’s Reckon Takes Cues From Occupy

Jason Collett w/ Danielle Duval, Oct. 7 at Lion D’Or

Jason Collett’s fifth solo album, Reckon, was inspired by the trying political and economic climate that’s left its mark on the past four years.

Reckon is Collett at his best, crafting thoughtful and catchy melodies that are accessible but not tired. These may not be strike-rallying anthems, but there is something more rousing to this album than his previous ones.

As the songs piled up during the writing process for Reckon, Collett began to notice they were all approaching a central theme of loss through a variety of angles.
“The writing was largely influenced by the economic collapse of 2008 and how much of that has permeated our culture,” he said. “There’s an undertone of loss that’s related to that.”

But using his music as a soapbox wasn’t what he wanted, so he focused the record on the personal struggles of everyday people, living in trying times.

“I realized I was going down this road,” he admitted. “There’s a certain risk.”

What remains isn’t a shrill or preachy record, but one that talks about what it felt like to be one of the millions defaulting on their mortgages and losing their jobs.

It wasn’t planned like this—the Occupy movement simply happened to storm North America right as he hit the studio in Toronto last year, catching Collett up in it, as it did so many.

“I felt like I was part of a larger movement,” he said.

Just as he was taking a musical risk, so too were thousands of people across North America taking risks trying to challenge a system run amok. But finding a way to speak his mind without being too blunt was a process.

“I had to figure out how to keep it personal and keep the rhetoric out of the songs,” said Collett. “I like records that have layers, that reveal themselves over time.”

Collett has revealed himself over time, too—whether working with Broken Social Scene or Hawksley Workman, Zeus or Bahamas, he’s built an impressive
resumé with a star-studded Canadian cast.

That’s the reason for Essential Cuts—a bonus disc comprised of 11 songs and unreleased b-sides that comes with Reckon.

It goes all the way back to Collett’s first solo album in 2001, Bitter Beauty, and uses tracks featuring musicians and producers he’s worked with throughout his career.

Despite the diversity, to many he remains Jason Collett, ex-Broken Social Scene member.

“Everyone needs some kind of tagline,” he said, when asked about how it makes him feel to be constantly referred to as such. And, he admitted, it’s not a bad thing to have people associate with your name.

“There was a lot of cross-pollinating of ideas,” he said of BSS. “I think any artform, when you work in a collective—they’re very healthy environments to be in, because when you’re inspired by your surrounding peers and their work, you work harder.”

Jason Collett w/ Danielle Duval / Oct. 7 / Lion D’Or (1676 Ontario St. E.) / 7:00 p.m. / $21.50