I hate to say it, but I think Barenaked Ladies might be better off (at least in terms of radio play) without Steven Page.
As recent as a month ago, if you had shown me the above sentence and told me it was something I was going to write, I would have told you you were nuts. But that was before I heard the new Barenaked Ladies single, “You Run Away.”
It’s one of those songs that you can’t help getting caught up in. And I think it might actually get some air time from the corporate megastations. Now, does that mean it’s the best song they’ve ever done? Well that remains to be seen, but in my opinion, it’s certainly their most radio friendly single since “One Week” in the late ’90s. It gently builds into the kind of power ballad that usually gets the top-40 crowd’s panties in a proverbial twist. Sure it doesn’t have “slammin’ beats” that are likely to land it on the “Jersey Shore” soundtrack, but it has definite potential.
It just isn’t the kind of single I could imagine with Steven Page’s voice, and I really love his voice. But this new track transcends that. Ed Robertson is spot on, and I love it.
Since Page’s departure from the band last year, the group has been vocal about its split with the crooner, some — like drummer Tyler Stewart — sounding a tad more bitter than others. But for the most part, they have been moving on as a four piece, playing a handful of shows across North America and working on their 11th studio album, “All in Good Time,” set for release in March.
The thing is, they look like a new band … or maybe it’s more correct to say they look like a renewed and refreshed version of themselves — energetic and optimistic.
It’s not that Page held the band back, per se. They were certainly successful over the last 20 years. But I always felt that Robertson was much more upbeat and prone to creating pop music than his brooding co-front man. So it’s with renewed anticipation that I await the “Ladies’ ” new album. And I find myself waiting for Steven Page’s new albums — a cover album to be followed by a set of originals — with much less excitement than I enjoyed in the past.
It’s not that I don’t still enjoy the power and beauty of Page’s voice. It’s just that the essence of what I love about Barenaked Ladies is still with the band, and with “You Run Away” they are reminding me of the band that I fell in love with in college.
“It feels just like I’m falling for the first time,” with or without Steven Page.