Shine Columbia Music •••• Sound •••• DualDisc Extras •••½
A more appropriate cover photo would show Trey Anastasio thrusting his notebook skyward, not his guitar, since Shine highlights his newly confident songwriting. And I'm not referring to his first-ever complete batch of lyrics (decent though they are). It's his writing of songs that impresses - the way "slow dancing with the trees all around" genuinely sways with the music. That track, "Tuesday," also has a killer riff in the chorus, and it's just one of many irresistibly catchy hooks on this album ("Come as Melody" indeed). It all adds up to a personal high for Trey, certainly his best studio work since Phish's Farmhouse. Whereas his old band's post-hiatus swansongs (and much of his first solo album) were burbling, rambling affairs, Shine is pithy and punchy, with Trey backed mostly by Kenny Aronoff on drums and producer Brendan O'Brien doubling on bass. Still pining for the stretched-out Anastasio of old? "Wherever You Find It" is an instant six-minute classic - and I'd argue that "Spin" and "Black" should be heard together as a dramatic, nearly ten-minute climax, complete with some jaw-dropping guitar at the very end. Not enough? Then check out the DVD side of this DualDisc, featuring some Treydmark live solos on three Shine songs plus the unreleased "Dark and Down." There are interviews, too, and behind-the-scenes footage (but no surround mix for either the live tracks or the album itself).