Yellow Plate Hotel: The Final Scene

Paul Whyte


here are plenty of albums put out by singer-songwriters in the area and it’s no light task to judge someone’s personal, stripped down and minimalistic approach to music. It goes without saying that singer-songwriter material isn’t something that is weighed by extraordinary technical playing or studio tricks that make something sound cool. What usually gets me is when I get the feeling that the material makes one moved, caught in the moment and convinced that there’s something genuine behind it on top of holding a sense of originality. 

Jason Koski travels in and out of the Twin Ports area and his new CD, “The Final Scene,” was written and recorded in Washington, Colorado, Florida and Minnesota. In this album he achieves a feeling of something real in the lyrics and delivery which lie over laid back and tasteful musicianship. 

The track, “In Aeroplanes,” brings in the cello, fiddle and additional female vocal accompaniment besides Koski’s gently picked guitar and soft vocals. Despite bringing in several instruments on a good number of the tracks, it stays minimalistic and goes for effective melodies in creating a mood over being showy. The sound of the album lies somewhere along the lines of folk and country, but it holds back in style from a lot of other artists I’ve heard that fall under that genre. 

It’s not exactly a sad album, but the lyrics are often sentimental and reveal a sense of vulnerability in the aspects of love, longing and just getting by. After this winter, the track, “If I,” is easy to relate to. It’s about the feelings of being trapped and coping with winter as well with dealing loss and regret. “Maybe I’ll fly away someday…living in another winter, I think I’m finally going insane,” goes the chorus. 

The tasteful use of instruments and vocals are well demonstrated on the track, “Air Balloon.” The listener gets welcomed by the warm sounds of a cello which backs off as the vocals come in. The female backing vocals hold the melody lines well. Towards the middle of the song an accordion comes in and gives way to the cello. In a way I guess this could be considered the solo or breakdown, but it’s so mellow and pretty, it seems wrong to call it that. In the final verse the vocal duties switch off and Koski fills the secondary vocal parts under the female vocals. The few times I’ve seen Koski play in the Twin Ports he is accompanied by Nature Joy Lindsay but I’m not familiar enough with her voice to say for sure if she is featured on this album. Whoever did them, they certainly add to the delivery of the album.  One thing that I wish that was included with the album would be credits to who played and assisted with production. I checked out Yellow Plate Hotel’s website and there is really no indication of anyone but Koski playing on this album. 

While this album is really chilled out and at times a little somber, there are a couple of songs that are a little more upbeat. While more uptempo, they stick with the general feel of the album. The song “1200 Miles” takes on a more definite feel of country. As the title would indicate, it’s a song about taking off and traveling. The other track, “Moral Relapse,” crosses blues, country and folk and is one of the only tracks that have harmonica on them.     

Lyrically this album stays in a realm of being accessible without giving away too much. Songwriter material is often hit or miss on creating a genuine feeling without being too abstract or telling a story where the listener has no idea what the story is even about. The imagery is fitting for what is happening most of the time on this album. A reoccurring theme of film and movies comes out towards the last half of the album. The track, “Pillow Collapse,” plays on the theme. “I write the scripts in my dreams/I lay awake, you fall asleep/and darling will you give me some more? A little of all you know/trapped inside your camera roll/a silent movie and private show to unfold.” The titles of the last two tracks, “The Final Scene” and “Silver Screen Interstate,” follow suit on the theme.

I’m unsure of the relevance of the cover art to the music overall. It’s a jellyfish and the only thing besides looking kind of cool that I can think of is is that Koski got the idea while in Florida.

Overall, “The Final Scene” delivers a smooth listening experience from start to finish.  It reflects on some deeper issues, but remains composed and collected. As far as singer-song writer material goes, it really pulls through on lyrics that the listener can relate to and everything from the melody lines of the vocals and use of extra instruments is well orchestrated. Koski was going for a certain mood in this album and pulled it all together wonderfully. 







Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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