J Mascis, the legendary guitarist and frontman of Dinosaur Jr. released dropped his debut solo studio album ‘Several Shades of Why’ in spring 2011 under Sub Pop Records (best known for their brutally honest rejection letters). Deviating from his distinctive work with Dinosaur Jr. Several Shades of Why is a primarily acoustic folk rock album.
‘Several Shades of Why‘ opens with ‘Listen to Me‘, a soft slow tempo song with a very simple structure that gives the song a very relaxing yet heartfelt tone. The albums title track immediately shows off J’s very intricate and complex style of playing and does have strong similarities to the style of Dinosaur Jr., orchestral strings are added to the track which again gives the song a very heartfelt tone.
The song ‘Not Enough‘ has a very upbeat tone with backing vocals which resonates with the general narrative of the lyrics which carries the message of trying to fix a damaged relationship and not giving up on someone. Due to the nature of these lyrics it is one of the most relatable songs on the album.
In addition to the acoustic guitar from Mascis on this album, there is also a plethora of less than ordinary accompanying instruments. Going through dobros and lap steel guitars to violins, clarinets, optigans and the saw. Most of these can be found on the track ‘Very Nervous and Love’ and are played with a very distorted and echoey sound behind the track.
The album was generally very well received by numerous different publications and featured guest musicians such as Ben Birdwell, the frontman for South Carolina’s ‘Band of Horses‘ and Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew.