Thanks, that was fun, Steven Page. The Ladies are now without the writer and lead singer of their most popular songs from their 20 year history, so All in Good Time is an important album for the four remaining members to prove that they can hold their own.
Barenaked Ladies’ albums have always had an unorganised quality because of the two writers, Steven Page and Ed Robertson. Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan have made additions here and there, but it was always the Steven and Ed show. With Steven gone, Kevin and Jim step up to write three and two songs respectively, but I wish they had just left the song writing to Ed. I’ve never liked Kevin’s whiney voice, so his three tracks are instant negatives for me. His potentially listenable “Another Heartbreak” becomes boring as the already repetitive chorus is repeated over and over to no useful effect. Jim’s “On the Lookout” is okay; skip “I Saw It”.
The album only shines when Ed is at the helm, but, even then, not all the time: “Four Seconds” shows that he has forgotten how to write catchy “One Week” style raps. “You Run Away” is the first single; it’s a meaningful song to the band and a beautiful song in general. In a CBC Radio interview, host Jian Ghomeshi mentioned that the song was written about Steven’s departure from the band. Ed, paraphrased from my faulty memory, replied: “Hey, don’t jump to conclusions Jian. This song could be about anyone who suddenly left a band I was in for 20 years”. For that old Ladies’ sound, look no further than “Ordinary” (makes sense) and “Golden Boy” with its fun sing-a-long-able chorus. “Every Subway Car” has a great verse and bridge melody, but its chorus falls flat.
With a handful of good Ed songs among his misses and the yawns of the others, I am excited to see what Steven releases as a solo-effort in response. Barenaked Ladies’ albums of old were fun and witty and had the benefit of two talented song-writers who put forth their best material. Without Steven, the Ladies are even more naked than before (hah! I’m so witty. I bet no other reviews of this album will use that joke). Objectively, it’s a pleasant listen…but not what I, as one fearing change, expect—nay, deserve—from the Ladies.
Not recommended. It’s good as unobstrusive background music, but honestly! What kind of a recommendation would that be?
Buy/Steal/Youtube: “You Run Away”
Or just get: Barenaked Ladies’ Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits, you cheater.