In This Life


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Review Text Jet Black Stare's debut album shows promise in a number of ways -- the musicianship is good and consistent throughout, the choruses are catchy, and there are good vocals from frontman Rod Black on most of the songs. Though the group excels at the slower, lighter numbers that are liberally interspersed throughout In This Life, that's not to say that the band is incapable of harder-edged numbers, as demonstrated by opening track "Ready to Roll." Guitarists Flip and Dave Muselman turn in steady, no-frills performances, and Jet Black Stare's rhythm section, comprised of Shane Hayes on bass and Dan Swinimer on drums, provides a solid foundation no matter what the tempo. Unfortunately, it all comes to naught. While there may be no problem with the band's basic technique, In This Life is bogged down by its execution. Jet Black Stare sound much like fellow Canadians Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman, and the album does nothing to distinguish them from their contemporaries. The approach becomes almost paint-by-numbers at certain points; songs like "I'm Breathing," "Rearview Mirror," and "Poster Princess" sound almost interchangeable with other tunes from their post-grunge peers. The album's layout is also predictable, evenly split between gritty, hard-charging (yet paradoxically bland and shallow) rock and mediocre ballads, the former of which is sung in a strained tone that sounds like the vocalist was moving furniture while recording his tracks in the booth. It's a shame, as there are a number of indications throughout In This Life that Jet Black Stare can move beyond these stumbling blocks if they don't mind changing their direction. On lighter numbers like "In This Life" and "Every Moment," for example, Black reveals a pleasant tenor that expresses more emotion and sincerity than growls and grunts ever could, while Flip and Muselman are free to loosen up and provide something other than driving, aggressive chords. It may not be what Jet Black Stare had in mind, but these introspective numbers are the group's strong point. ~ Katherine Fulton

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Ready to Roll - 3:11
  2. 2. I'm Breathing - 4:52
  3. 3. In This Life - 4:44
  4. 4. Every Moment - 4:51
  5. 5. It's Over - 3:20
  6. 6. Rearview Mirror - 4:31
  7. 7. Fly - 4:41
  8. 8. I Won't Let Go - 3:18
  9. 9. Poster Princess - 3:08
  10. 10. River - 3:11
  11. 11. Next to Me - 4:38

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