If Three was a love letter to home, Scrappy Happiness is one penned to another love that Plaskett has held close almost as long. His seventh solo LP is a tribute to rock n’ roll, the bands that mean something and a tradition that’s waiting for the gold watch and an escort out the door.
Scrappy Happiness is raw; built on spontaneous inspiration, ad libbed lyrics and crunching riffs. Instead of a meticulous, sprawling opus, Plaskett focused on heartfelt ballads joyful sing alongs that capture a moment in time. Basically, Scrappy Happiness is a collection of the best moments of Plaskett’s career and when all is said and done, it will stand alongside Down At The Khyber as his most inspired work.
There isn’t anything as sophisticated as the hooks and imagery he presented on Three, but Plaskett hasn’t sounded this energetic or vital in years. This is a rock record, but one that views warmth and heart as an equal to hot licks.
The Emergency sets the tone on the opener, “Lightning Bolt”, when the huge bass line and drums take over from Plaskett’s vocals and spare guitar work and pave the way for dueling guitars to start shredding. Over the next nine songs, Plaskett rips off guitar solos, lighter in the air type slow burners and respectful nods to under the radar influences.
Lyrically, Plaskett has always toed the line between playful cheesiness and clever wit when he rides a groove and there are moments on Scrappy Happiness that could have used editing (if he had more than a week to polish the efforts), but that’s part of Plaskett’s charm and when he knocks it out of the park (it wrecks me every single time I hear, “I’ll stand beneath a devastating sky” on “Harbour Boys”), you connect. You sing. You smile.
Plaskett grew up loving rock n roll. I remember him taking Husker Du tapes out from the library in High School and caring more about music than I cared about anything. That life long love affair shines through here. The songs use timeless images and classic sounds in inventive ways, and ultimately, Scrappy Happiness is a record made by a fan. That fan just happens to have thousands and thousands of fans of his own.
Joel Plaskett Emergency - You’re Mine by Joel Plaskett