Whether fronting alternative rock legends and pioneers Dinosaur Jr. or branching out in his own solo work, J Mascis always seems to deliver something well worth a living. With this new solo album, Several Shades of Why, Mascis has pieced together a mellow and beautiful collection of acoustic songs. The album features notable collaborations with the likes of Kurt Vile adding guitar to a number of tracks and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses offering himself up some vocals. Adding to the Alternative Rock who's-who feel, legendary grunge label Sub Pop are putting it out. It stands to reason that the weight of expectation for this album is quite high.
The album begins with the major key strains of Listen to Me. It is a warm opening track with two guitars and vocals sitting next to each other effortlessly. Mascis's rough vocals take precedence over the instruments and add a totally different texture. The album's title track is a much more delicate affair, with a picked intro and refrain riff. It adds violin to the mix and comes across as much more melancholy.
Simply, if you're looking for something with the overdriven punk attitude of Dinosaur Jr., you won't find it here. What is on offer is the jerky changes reminiscent of that band's music, such as in Too Deep whose guitar playing comes across as something like an unplugged version of Feel The Pain. Elsewhere the album is full of trademark hooks and huge choruses, such as in the almost gospel Not Enough or Is It Done, one of the album's many highlights.
To conclude, if you're a fan of J Mascis solo or within Dinosaur Jr. you will find something to enjoy about Several Shades of Why. It is heart-warming and fun. Not to mention the cover art is simply fantastic.