Barenaked Ladies, All in Good Time [2010]

Posted by Greg , Tuesday, July 6, 2010 6:38 PM


Buried within All in Good Time is Barenaked Ladies' hardest-hitting record, if you take the time to find it.  The messy departure of vocalist Steven Page weighed heavily on the band while writing these songs, and this is no more obvious than in those sung by former co-lead (now just lead) vocalist Ed Robertson, particularly on the ballad "You Run Away," angry rocker "I Have Learned," and jaunty "Golden Boy."

The trouble is, though, that the potent bitterness of this "breakup" album is diluted by more introspective, outside-looking-in contributions from keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bassist Jim Creegan.  Undoubtedly, the remaining members made a decision to feature every vocalist in the name of band solidarity.  But while their combined five songs provide a probably more accurate/complete account of Page's exodus, they divert attention from the more cohesive picture presented by Robertson.

An argument can be made that it's important to include these perspectives, but the record suffers artistically for it.  While Creegan is a revelation (where have they been hiding this guy so long?), Hearn has written better songs, particularly on Barenaked Ladies Are Me/Are Men.  Indeed, even Hearn's best track from these sessions (at least among those that have been released), "Let There Be Light," was inexplicably relegated to vendor-specific bonus track.

Likewise, the track order gives the impression that the record is more mid-tempo, burying Robertson's heavier tracks in the second half.  For an album with so many rockers, the listener should not need to wait seven tracks to hear the first one.  With that in mind, I'd like to propose an alternate track order:

1. You Run Away
2. Ordinary
3. Four Seconds
4. I Have Learned
5. On the Lookout
6. Every Subway Car
7. Summertime
8. Let There Be Light [iTunes bonus track]
9. How Long
10. Golden Boy
11. I Saw It
12. Moonstone [Amazon bonus track]
13. The Love We're In

"You Run Away" retained the leadoff track position only because there are no other songs in from these sessions that have the feel of an album-opener.  Ideally, I would have like to put it as track 3 or 4, the typical location of a ballad radio single.  Either way, I would have released "Every Subway Car" as the lead single, with "You Run Away" as the follow-up.

Still, this tracklisting achieves a stronger rock feel than the original All in Good Time, while retaining vocal contributions from Hearn and Creegan.  For a shorter, tighter album (11 tracks), any two of "On the Lookout," "I Saw It," or "Moonstone" could be removed, but I think that pushes the album too far into Robertson-solo territory.  After all, it's supposed to be a Barenaked Ladies album.

Either way, with the modified album above, reviewers could confidently call All in Good Time the hardest rocking record in the entire BNL catalog, moreso even than Stunt or Maroon.  That's the review I'd like to give, and it'd be accurate with the original version if your attention is focused on the latter part of the record.  It's frustrating, too, because notwithstanding a few logistical missteps, All in Good Time is the best Barenaked Ladies album in a decade.

Every Subway Car:


Golden Boy:

4 Response to "Barenaked Ladies, All in Good Time [2010]"

Andrea Says:

Sooo, is it just me or does this sound like a completely different band rather than just a new member?! Granted, I don't think I've heard a new BNL song since circa 1999; however, had I heard either of those on the radio, I'd still think that the case. They were unrecognizable to me. It's like their tone has changed, less jocular, perhaps?

Greg Says:

No new members; they just lost one of the two primary vocalists. The man singing in the two songs I posted also sang "Pinch Me" and the rap in "One Week" ("Chickety chein of the chinese kitchen...).

You're correct that they've matured over the last decade, but BNL have always had more "serious" music than their singles would suggest. Had I posted "Four Seconds" from the new album, you likely wouldn't have had the same reaction.

Andrea Says:

I guess I have you to blame for my shock and awe then.

Greg Says:

Or you've only heard "One Week" and "If I Had a $1000000"...

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