The booming pop spectacle "Keep Them at Bay" opens Torontonian Shawn Hewitt's debut album, Spare Hearts
. Above all else, the record showcases Hewitt's vocal potential, his range expanding and contracting throughout each of the album's 11 tracks. Produced by Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene) and John O'Mahoney (Coldplay), Spare Hearts
continually teases depth but ultimately wades in a pool of its own glossy mediocrity.
In dissecting the arrangement of a song like "Mr. Don't Break It," it becomes clear that Hewitt is capable of something far more substantial than what is heard. Equal parts doo-wop and neo-soul, "Try" also teases greatness but is ultimately restricted by Hewitt's focus on making a pop album that sounds like a pop album.
In 2004 Hewitt was awarded the Fan's Choice Award at the 2004 NXNE festival, leading to a hefty amount of exposure for the young musician before he even released a proper album. And roughly three years after the release of The Soft Society
EP, Hewitt is still struggling to find a sound that lives up to expectation.