It’s rare to hear musical artists capable of covering a wide variety of sounds. Most discover a path they can walk early on and soon trod it into dust, but Joe Piket has kept his options open. The eight songs included on his solo release Everything is Different explore a handful of voices but, behind them all, I hear a presiding intelligence that never fails album listeners. He is consistent, showing attention to detail over each aspect of the album’s presentation, and there’s a deceptive ambition underlying its first songs. It reveals itself later on.
He embraces tradition without reservation with the first two tracks. “Now I Have Everything” is a memorable beginning in more ways than one. The sheer chutzpah of kicking off a 2020 release with a tune synthesizing doo wop and classical influences delights me. He even incorporates the stock spoken word “monologue” into this track. One thing, if nothing else, listeners will take away from this collection is a healthy respect for Piket’s vocal chops. He adopts a dazzling variety of guises for his voice over the course of Everything Is Different and none of them hit a false note with me.
Piket detours into singer/songwriter rock with the next track. It has a hard-driving edge missing from other performances on this release but never abandons finesse altogether. The likelihood of someone penning a song titled “Coke Stevenson” in 2020 is similar to someone writing a track entitled “Huey Long” but the historical reference to an onetime Texas governor isn’t a gimmick. Everything is Different is a showcase for the many songwriting faces Piket wears and “Coke Steveson”’s memorable guitars are an album high point.
The kiss-off qualities of “My Rearview Mirror” are well-suited for its reggae influences. Piket attempts imitating no one. He takes on the Caribbean style without any heavy-handedness and the airy production supporting the song makes an uniquely enjoyable and commercial listening experience. There’s plenty of potential here.
“Piles” mixes several musical ingredients together in an unusual confection. One thinks they’re getting an organ-spiked light rocker with a progressive influence at first. Piket, however, soon broadens the song’s sound and it takes on a quasi-orchestral pop aspect quite unlike anything else recorded for this release. The theatricality present in the vocal sends this track over the top into something special. Romping R&B makes “Hard to Be Good” fly from its boisterous horns to the fleet-footed piano rippling below the song’s surface.
The cumulative effects of the album’s first seven tracks are listeners’ only preparation for the album’s last song. “Another Age” is far longer than any of its predecessors, a few seconds over nine minutes, and owes a clear debt to several bands/artists. I believe Piket takes those audible influences in an individual direction, however, in regard to its compositional structure and vocal approach. The keyboards present here are the album’s best, without question. “Another Age” places an emphatic exclamation point on Joe Piket’s Everything is Different and points the way towards a future burning bright with promise.
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