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It’s mystifying that rapper and CBC Radio Q host Shad has chosen to pay homage to the smokiest baritone in R&B by naming his new soft rock project Your Boy Tony Braxton. As he explains in the press release accompanying this short and punchy 10-song set, the tone he was going for was based on “the idea of a dude named Tony Braxton who likes to sing (but obviously isn’t as good as the famous Toni Braxton).”
Jokey name aside, Adult Contempt is as earnest as they come. Produced with frequent collaborator Matthew Johnston, it’s the kind of bland and squeaky-clean, CBC-friendly frat rock that could have been recorded by or adapted for any number of artists to feed the unobtrusive needs of the CanCon radio machine.
Though he may not be as distinctive a vocalist as Ms. Braxton, Shad’s plaintive singing is pleasant enough, and early on it sounds like he might be aiming to bring some twittering Morrisseyesque drama on opener Good (Enough) and the briskly paced Happy. He isn’t afraid to tackle a sudden key change, but his introspective musings aren’t interesting enough to transcend the album’s overbearing and dated-sounding late 80s/90s alt-rock atmosphere, which is heavy on obvious rhyme schemes, chunky ‘n’ chimey riffs and forgettable guitar solos.
Shad has a strong sense of melody and pacing, but his song concepts about escaping small towns, falling in and out of love, getting older and feeling lonely lack a strong point of view. Adult Contempt sounds like just another case of coasting along on teenage nostalgia.
Top track: Happy