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Issue: February 2011

No Longer Naked

Page One (Zoe Records)
Steven Page

Steven Page, the chief songwriter for most of the Barenaked Ladies’ catalog, proves with his recent solo project, Page One, why he was credited as writer or co-writer on the vast majority of the Canadian band’s song catalog.

In truth, much of Page’s output has leaned toward slyly humorous or offbeat themes, but it’s his ability to produce the big hook, the irresistible pop chorus, that puts him ahead of former BNL co-founder Ed Robertson.

Page One is a worthy collection of Page’s interesting stories and aforementioned hooks. While it can at times be a tad self-indulgent, it’s still a winsome listen. And after all, that’s kind of what pop is about.

The themes of loss run strong in these songs, but the sweet melodies more than balance the regret and sadness underlying. “A New Shore” is classic Page pop goodness, and “Indecision” sounds like it probably should have been a BNL song once upon a time.

“Marry Me” is another of those irresistible hooks, with a lyric that takes a shot at modern relationships. “Marry me/You are a girl/And I am a man/Fair is she/Why must I love what I must destroy?”

The next track is “All the Young Monogamists,” which carries a similar theme over a beautiful-sounding strings-and-horn laced ballad: “As they gaze into the eyes/Of the one they love/They can feel inside of them/This is not enough.” Ouch. “Some of them will just grow tired/And some of them will flee/And some of them will sleep around/Just like you and me.”

Ouch.

The cynicism wraps up with the narrator telling his significant other, “How could we the cynical/Who’ve been around the block/Ever trust another soul? … But here we are, monogamists/Swearing it will last/I know it seems ridiculous/Considering our past.” The song ends with the repeated chorus, “But I will always be true to you.”

It’s disturbing and cynical, yet funny and amazingly honest. But Page has never been afraid to shake his audience out of a trance, and he certainly hasn’t lost the ability to do so.

“She’s Trying to Save Me” is another study of dysfunctional relationships, while “Over Joy” is a beautiful and sad pop song that tells the story of joy’s death at the hands of universal lies like “I love you.”

Give this one plenty of time to take hold, and you’ll be happy you bought it.

Find out more at stevenpage.com.

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