Another World (Secretly Canadian)

Rating: NNNN

This EP, a teaser of what to expect from the full-length album scheduled for January, sees the vocalist reining in some of his more histrionic tendencies while expanding his palette of influences and sounds. Some fans are going to miss the melodramatic over-the-top crescendos of his earlier material, but if they have the patience they’ll realize that this restraint serves him well, putting the emphasis on the songs rather than his otherworldly warble and heart-wrenching wailing.

The biggest surprise is the upbeat blues stomp of Shake That Devil, a track that’s already polarizing reviewers and fans as either the highlight or misstep of Another World. Within his repertoire of piano-ballad torch songs, this call-and-response shuffler stands out somewhat awkwardly, but on further listening it starts making sense. More than anything, it evokes Nina Simone’s See-Line Woman, whereas the rest of his oeuvre was closer to I Loves You Porgy. Not such a big leap, really, but one that needed to be made if he’s going to progress beyond the unique little niche he’s carved out for himself.

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