The first ‘proper’ solo album from Dinosaur Jr. frontman and grunge-guitar icon J Mascis.
Despite being pitched as Mascis’ debut solo album, Several Shades Of Why is far from the first time that the Dinosaur Jr. mainman has released music where he takes the sole songwriting credit.
Following the dismissal of founding bassist Lou Barlow in the '90s, much of Dinosaur Jr.’s mid-career output was a largely J Mascis driven affair. Then there’s his semi-solo work as J Mascis And The Fog, the various live sessions and his largely forgotten album of acoustic reworks and covers, Martin + Me…
That said, Several Shades Of Why is certainly unique within Mascis’ catalogue of work, and definitely worthy of exploring. Recorded entirely in his home studio, the record sees him shun his trademark Fender Jaguar in favour of working entirely acoustically (with only very occasional use of a distortion pedal).
It shows off Mascis’ broad skills as a guitarist excellently; demonstrating an ability to write fantastic fingerstyle folk and country-inspired rock songs like Make It Right that go beyond the blistering solo-driven grunge he’s known for.
There’s some impressive talent backing Mascis on the album too - Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Band Of Horses' Ben Bridshaw both turn up in supporting roles, among others. The album’s title track, meanwhile, is a genuinely lovely duet between Mascis and Godspeed You! Black Emperor violinist Sophie Trudeau. A highly recommended listen, and not just for Dinosaur Jr. fans.