Friday, October 9, 2015

Brief Reviews: New Solo Releases by Chris Cornell, Don Henley & Grace Potter

Chris Cornell – Higher Truth – The talented front man for Soundgarden & Audioslave recently released this stunning solo disc. After working with producer Timbaland on 2009’s electronica & pop influenced Scream, Cornell dials things back on Higher Truth. It’s a folk-leaning record that features his usual strong vocal performances, but in a more acoustic setting. The songs are about life, love, loss & redemption, and feature Cornell’s vivid & atmospheric lyrics. Some highlights include the melodic "Worried Moon," the mandolin tinged “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” the beautiful “Let Your Eyes Wander,” and a father’s touching ode to his daughter in “Only These Words.” Producer Brendan O’Brien plays on many of the tracks with Cornell, and has done a fabulous job crafting the sound of the album. This may be Cornell’s most assured solo work to date, and it’s a solid mix of his alternative rock strengths with a more quiet, ethereal feeling. Higher Truth is very much worth a listen.

Don Henley – Cass County - It shouldn’t be a surprise that Henley’s gone country on his first solo release in 15 years. The Eagles always had a touch of country in their sound, and Henley & Glenn Frey got their start backing Linda Ronstadt in her early days. On this new release, he reflects on growing older & the passage of time in our lives on songs like “Take A Picture Of This,” and “That Old Flame,” a duet with Martina McBride. In fact, there are many guest stars on the record including Jamey Johnson, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton. One of my favorite tracks is the opener, a solid cover of Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose,” that features Mick Jagger & Miranda Lambert. It’s an enjoyable, low-key album that will appeal to Henley’s fans, and might grab him a few new ones. It recently debuted at number one on the country charts.

Grace Potter – Midnight – I’m a huge fan of Potter’s work with her roots-oriented rock band The Nocturnals, with whom she’s recorded several fine albums. But she’s taken a sharp left turn towards pop on her solo debut. The music has a very produced, layered & radio ready feel, courtesy of producer Eric Valentine. Sadly, it sometimes push Potter's wonderful voice to the background. Tracks range from the bouncy “Alive Tonight” to the r&b flavored “Instigators,” & the destined for the Top 40 “Delirious.” That’s not to say these songs are bad, but it’s a very different sound for the soulful Potter, and may surprise longtime listeners. As the album winds down, we are treated beautiful ballad about loss entitled “Let You Go,” that sounds most akin to her previous work. Potter is stretching her muscles here, and trying something different. It will be interesting to see how the album (and the accompanying tour) is received by her loyal fans.

All three albums are now available online & in stores: Here are links to "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart," by Chris Cornell,, "Take A Picture of This," by Don Henley,, and Grace Potter's "Delirious,"

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