A.C. Newman – Shut Down the Streets
While The New Pornographers is sort of a western Canadian version of the alt-star collectives to the east of the Great White North (like Broken Social Scene – QRO spotlight on), singer/guitarist A.C. Newman has always been the main metropole for the group (like BSS’ Kevin Drew). And even as NP leading lady Neko Case (QRO album review) has seen her solo career vault upwards, so too has Newman, if at a slower, but still successful pace. Newman recruits Case and others for his third solo record, Shut Down the Streets, a sweet record that admittedly sounds a little like acoustic New Porn.
Starting with the swaying opener “I’m Not Talking”, Shut Down is a decidedly sweet album, lighter than his prior solo LP, Get Guilty (QRO review), but Newman is deft enough not to overplay his hand (unlike so many of the younger sweet-sounding generation). He can do sweet & sad (“Do Your Own Time”, “The Troubadour”, “They Should Have Shut Down the Streets”) as easily as sweet uplift (“Encyclopedia of Classic Takedowns”, “Strings”). Which approach is better mostly depends on the listener’s personal preference; Newman can do both.
A.C. Newman’s solo career may never eclipse his New Pornographers work, but that’s as much because The New Pornographers are so great. Recruiting Case (who hasn’t reached Feist – QRO live review – levels yet) for Shut Down the Streets does make the comparisons a little too easy (NP’s “The Mary Martin Show” can be felt on “Do Your Own Time”; “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” on Shut Down’s “Encyclopedia”), but mo’ ability, mo’ output, mo’ problems…