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Steven Page

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Steven Page

Page One

Page One cover

Steven Page's 2010 album Page One is the singer's first all-original solo effort since parting ways with his longtime band the Barenaked Ladies in 2009. As such, it showcases Page's long-acknowledged powerful tenor croon and knack for literate, catchy songs that teeter between darkly sardonic and romantically bittersweet ruminations on love and life. Page One is also a solid return to pop form for the singer, whose 2008 arrest for cocaine possession (the charges were later reduced to misdemeanors), while perhaps not the main reason for his split with the band he co-founded, nonetheless seemed like the tip of an iceberg of creative and personal issues that had, until then, remained largely hidden from fans. Page addresses these issues most directly on the epic lead-off track "A New Shore," where he sings, "As captain of this merry band of sailors/I'm a black mark, I'm a failure/So before you watch me drown/I'm relinquishing command/for something I don't understand/This man's about to turn his whole life upside down." It's a grandly pyrrhic, bold, and candid statement of purpose on an album littered with bold, often awkward candid sentiments, and sets the listener up perfectly for what is yet to come. Tracks like the sparkling power pop meets cocktail lounge jazz of "Indecision" and the rollicking Morrissey-esque "Marry Me" should appeal to longtime Barenaked Ladies fans. Elsewhere, Page waxes wistfully jaded on the ballad "All the Young Monogamists." It’s a wicked little Randy Newman-style chamber pop number, replete with strings, in which Page, the older and wiser lover, reveals the fallacies of monogamy and pop music, only to eventually come to the final admission, " But here we are, monogamists a-swearing it will last/I know it seems ridiculous considering our pasts/But I will always be true to you." Page could be addressing his disillusioned BNL fans here as much as any current flame. However, if the album is any indication, his fans needn't worry. He may have lost the plot for a bit, but Page is back and his pop sensibility remains sarcastically, unsparingly intact.

Review by Matt Collar

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