John Bassett, Unearth
This album is in my Top 5 for 2014. I’m giving it 5 stars not just because I love the album (I do), but because it is that most rare of albums these days: an actual masterpiece. John Bassett steps away from his band, KingBathmat, and puts the focus solely on himself. Although he is the singer, bass player, and songwriter for KingBathmat, the songs are written with a band environment in mind. They are loud, often raucous, and usually long. (And these are all good things.) The songs on Unearth are the exact opposite: quiet, intimate, and very introspective. These are also good things.
In fact, I’m just going to say that these are great things. I’ve read interviews with John, and he comes across as a very down-to-earth guy who, despite his proggy and artsy leanings, is really just making songs that mean something to him. He’s not making songs to impress the music press. These songs might have some artsy aspects, but they sound very natural and organic. They are not pretentiously yelling, “Did you hear that? I’m different! I’m art!” They get under your skin and draw you in. They just are art, because they are just that good. For me, that’s the best kind.