The Park Avenue Sobriety Test
Reviewed by: Brian Roser
I love this guy, if for no other reason than the lyrics- “You have the right to bear arms and I have the right to bare feet.” The album seems to vacillate from mildly maudlin to cheerfully whimsical and back again. It’s folk rock with a drop of country and a huge heap of Celtic musical influence. Then again, Joel Plaskett is from a place called New Scotland and the album comes out on St. Patrick’s day, so the Celtic influence should probably not come as a surprise. Being Celtic, the theme of drinking is prominent with a small hint of wanderlust tempered by a love of home.
The name of the album comes from the nickname given to a guardrail next to a bend in the road in his hometown. Basically if you’re driving sober, it isn’t a problem, but if you’re not then the rail will claim another victim and you’ll be calling your insurance company. Within the tracks of the album, there are many times Plaskett looks to the past. Especially frequent are images of former loves and the one that got away. “Captains of Industry” is a song — and I’m sure this will shock you — that is critical of big business. This is a folk singer, so if you run a company and your name is not either Jack Daniels or Jim Beam, then you are considered pond scum.
The album is musically varied enough to keep your interest and his playful lyrics can make you giddy. Here’s another one I love, about a drunk guy trying to hit on the female bartender: “You ask her name and she tells you a lie, ‘cause Frank’s not a woman’s name.” The Park Avenue Sobriety Test will make you laugh and think and remember and tap your toes and then it will make you hit replay.