Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Clear Heart Full Eyes

Craig Finn's debut solo album is similar in spirit to last year's Brian Fallon's side project, The Horrible Crowes' Elsie, in that it's music you won't expect to hear on a Gaslight Anthem record. In this case you don't have the signature guitar riffs that populate every other Hold Steady tune. Still it's a surprisingly catchy batch of songs. What you'll find more or less the same is Finn's singing and lyrical styling and phrasing (something that takes a bit of getting used to if you've not a Hold Steady listener) -- still crafting film-norish poems about the losers and misfits of America, just incorporated into a different, more country-flavored instrumentation. There's a good amount of pedal steel, which I always love. And for those with discerning ears, you can immediately tell that the melody of the opening track, Apollo Bay, is exactly the same as a certain notable Neil Young song (clue: it's from the '70s and not a hit). This is the perfect record to listen to on a Valentine's Day afternoon, paired with Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas late at night!