Even after all these years writing about music, I'm still amazed not only by an artist who single-handedly manages to write, perform, record, produce and release everything on an album -- but who also manages to do it well. In the case of John Bassett (who really is the son of a nun), his oddly named KingBathmat solo project only furthers my fascination.
Previous writers' comparisons of KingBathmat to Radiohead and Oasis aren't too far off, but Son of a Nun boasts enough layers to please several types of listeners — from Beatlesesque melodies to progressive arrangements. While Bassett's voice takes some getting used to, Son of a Nun becomes a hypnotic listen. Opening track "Unfortunate Soul" encapsulates the breadth and depth of KingBathmat's music. Against what almost sounds like a calliope backdrop, Bassett's weary yet endearing voice implores listeners to "come out and play" and "drink from the river" before the piece takes a turn for the unexpected and segues into some minor-key riffing and schizophrenic vocals. Meanwhile, "Post Traumatic," one of the album's best tracks, reveals the British Bassett's eclectic sense of melody.
The remaining 10 tracks on Son of a Nun offer variations on "Unfortunate Soul" and "Post Traumatic," as Bassett spills his bleeding heart. Sparse packaging is redeemed by better-than-average production for an independent release. Why do mainstream-rock hacks like Avril Lavigne get signed to record deals and handed Grammy nominations while talented musicians like John Bassett continue to be overlooked?