Kevin Hearn and Thinbuckle: Havana Winter

By: Trevor Pour

While his name may not be immediately familiar, Kevin Hearn's work has quietly graced the mainstream airwaves for over a decade as the keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist for the Barenaked Ladies. Hearn was first adopted by BNL 14 years ago, but during that time he managed to maintain a vibrant and creative solo career with Thinbuckle, his personal project. Havana Winter (Six Shooter) represents the fourth studio album with that crew, a four-member outfit from Toronto that plays a brand of lyrically focused indie rock that may actually suffer from frequent comparisons to BNL; their music is fundamentally dissimilar, and deserves to stand alone.

Havana Winter is profoundly reflective, with a predominantly soft and soothing character. The opening track, "Coma," exemplifies that calming nature, but closes with a markedly contrasting yet surprisingly listenable distorted guitar solo. While many of the compositions are equally as tranquil – from the melodic ebb and flow of "Reeling" to the calm, piano-driven "Luna" – there are a few upbeat pieces. The finest of these is "In the Shade," which conjures up the unmistakable feel of a front-porch summer lifestyle. The whole piece is simply but expertly composed and mixed, and fits both Hearn's style and vocal range perfectly.

The bottom line: Havana Winter is everything it wants to be - nothing more, nothing less. As a tight, solid album, it clearly displays Hearn's talents as a songwriter and a vocalist; So, regardless of your take on BNL, this album is worth your time.

JamBase | Great White North
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[Published on: 12/14/09]

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