Jesse Dangerously Humble & Brilliant

"Halifax rap legend" Jesse Dangerously returns to the self-production of his earlier releases with Humble & Brilliant. Divided into two halves, Side I: Balling Out Of Control tends towards up-tempo and funky, while Side II: Bawling Uncontrollably slows the tempo as it proceeds towards the end of the album, becoming darker and more personal. In this latter half, Jesse dissects the evils of the Bible and porn on "Triptych I: Hot Commodity," borrows passages from Ralph Waldo Ellison short story "Boy On A Train" to accompany the folksy banjo blues of "Make Hymn Cry" and also attacks a new boyfriend on break-up song "Triptych II: Hot Property." But he pulls you into these confessionals with a first part dominated by disses, both scathing and self-deprecating. And maybe it's a side-effect of his newfound interest in rapping slower, but he's styling a whole lot more, as on "Professional Widowmaker" and the hard rocking "Holocaust Cloak." Timbuktu is the lone rap guest ("Tim I Said No Guests!"), but Jesse pulls his other friends into the proceedings to provide a bit of quirkiness. Audra Williams drops some Paul Barman-type flows and tap dances on "Bring Your Girlfriend To Rap Day," the least polished and professional of the album's 13 tracks, while Jeannie Taylor (of Montreal's Curse in the Woods) phones in some "la-la-las" and a bunch of other friends (and even kids) supply various background vocals. Humble & Brilliant is Jesse Dangerously's best and most adventurous work to date, but even cooler is the companion chapbook containing a foreword by Buck 65, lyrics to all of the songs and artwork from Ignatz-winning artist Hope Larson (Chiggers) and Eisner-winning cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim). Heck, the album cover art by Mike Holmes will look great on twelve-inch vinyl and would be worth the full price for that alone. (Backburner)