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Spotlight on: The Wreath by Jason Anderson

Cover of Jason Anderson's The Wreath Jason Anderson, The Wreath

Once upon a time, a man named Jason Anderson, like many of his indie brethren, decided to record his pop songs under a band-name pseudonym: Wolf Colonel. After two albums as Wolf Colonel, however, he tired of the idea of a nom de record but, not wanting to alienate his growing fan base, chose to release his third album, Something/Everything, under the dual moniker of "Wolf Colonel/Jason Anderson" -- a decidedly bold move.

Little did he know that when he finally came completely out from under that Wolf's clothing, it would result in his best-selling album to date: New England -- this despite it being a musical departure from what had come before. Now, less than a year later, the amazingly prolific songwriter has reading yet another collection of soulful introspection.

From the exclamatory "O, Jac!" to the interrogative "When Would You Say?", one-man power-pop band Jason Anderson plows through a variety of emotions on The Wreath along with his steadily-developing variety of styles.

While not as completely moving as New England, it is more purely fun, with many tracks that just cry out to be sung along to, even harmonized with and vocally embellished. Anderson, along with producer Jeremy Jensen (The Very Most) -- The Wreath was recorded in three days at Jensen's Coming in Second studios -- combine the slow, piano-based Anderson of New England with the harder pawp sounds of the Wolf Colonel albums to great effect.

The presence of Rachael Jensen's powerful duet vocals to Anderson's multi-instrumentalism (with some help from Jeremy Jensen and Karen McDonald) simply adds to the cohesiveness. I'm wondering if they just discovered her at the recording studio where The Wreath was made because she's simply such a perfect accompaniment for Anderson -- and this from someone who loved New England's Mirah and Phil Elverum duets "A Book Laid on Its Binding" and "You Fall", respectively.

From the beginning, "O, Jac!" and "If I'm Waiting" showcase the Anderson blending of styles but "Citizen's Arrest" is pure power pop with Anderson accompanying himself with masterful multiplicity. Sometimes, for a break, he simply accompanies himself on a single instrument and so we get "My Balancing Act" (piano) and "The Library" (guitar). But he's always entertaining, managing to be fun and thought-provoking at the same time. Multiple listens reveal previously missed nuances and favorite songs change from time to time (mine at the moment is "When Would You Say?" but just last week it was "I Was Wrong"). Jason Anderson has released a terrific album in the same amount of time that Roger Corman made Little Shop of Horrors with all the fun and ten times the emotional power and subtlety.

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