There are some musicians who are, for lack of a better way of describing it, in your face. There's nothing subtle about them and you know immediately whether you're going to like them or not. Then there are those at the other end of the spectrum. They are so subtle that you barely notice them, but for some reason you can't get them out of your mind. There's something about what they do with their music and lyrics that keeps pulling on your heart and mind, compelling you to listen to them over and over again.
The first time I listened to Jason Collett's new release Reckon on the Arts & Crafts label, it felt like it had come and gone like a puff of wind. Something that had briefly ruffled my hair without having any lasting impact. Yet the second time I listened not only did every song sound familiar, I found myself singing along with the choruses on about half of them. Music that had seemed to run together all of sudden had become a series of distinct tunes with intricate arrangements. During the first listen there might have been a couple of points where something grabbed my attention. However, the next time through I was amazed to hear songs performed in a variety of genres with lyrics both intelligent and moving.
While I don't know if this says more about my inability to listen than anything else, I do know that most of the time if a disc doesn't grab my attention the first time through, I don't bother with it again. Yet that wasn't the case on this occasion. Collett had reached inside me, grabbed my attention and held on tight without me even noticing. One of the ways he manages to do this is his voice. It's not what you'd call powerful, nor does it have any really distinguishing characteristics that make it stand out. Yet it's compelling all the same. Old time folk and country singers appealed to their audiences because their voices were familiar. It was like listening to somebody you knew singing. Collett has something similar going on. When he sings, it doesn't sound like he's up on a stage singing down at you from a great distance. Instead it sounds like he could be sitting in the chair opposite you in your living room or on your back porch.