Reviews Craig Finn Clear Heart/Full Eyes

Craig Finn

Clear Heart/Full Eyes

Clear Heart Full Eyes starts off curiously. Sure, “Apollo Bay” establishes that Finn’s solo debut is a separate project compared with The Hold Steady, but it’s also a minimal and boring song—among the worst and most forgettable on the record. He speaksings over a wandering guitar with some occasional slide that ultimately gets repetitive: something I won’t say about the rest of the record. I think it’s supposed to give an air of roving through a wasteland, but mostly it just makes me tune out for five minutes.

The intro track, though, is misleading. While built around Texas session musicians and a humid, lonely streak befitting of that geography, the rest of the album successfully mixes up sounds and characters (Finn’s strength), while alternately branching out from his popular main band.

The start is slow, but it picks up with the somber yet up-tempo “No Future” and really gets moving on “New Friend Jesus,” a bluegrass-styled song that’s a bit repetitive and heavy-handed, but the tempo change really defines the rest of the album. It leads into “Jackson,” which is a highlight with its storytelling narration. The music starts out minimal but builds, twists, and rises along with the narration, peaking as the storyline develops. Finn’s narration has long been his strength, and even with the varied (read: quieter) instrumentation, it’s the lyrics that shine. My growing gripe with Hold Steady releases is the wanky guitar solos, and their absence here is appreciated. Another lyrical highlight is “Balcony,” a country ballad with a lot of slide guitar and peppered with Minnesota-centric lyrics.

The downside isn’t so much the tempo and the tone but the balance and sequencing. Finn has never been much of a singer, and while he’s improved his chops over the years, the record still comes across as monotone over eleven songs. The instrumentation does what it can to mix things up, with organ and slide guitar giving some variety where his voice cannot. Still, it gets a bit drab on a start to finish listen in a way that louder rock, as with The Hold Steady, suits him better. There are definitely some choice cuts here, but as a whole it feels a bit sleepy and forgettable.

6.7 / 10Loren
Advertisement
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
Leave a comment

Vagrant

2012

6.7 / 10

6.7 / 10

Share this content
Advertisement
KFAI - Root Of All Evil
Recent reviews

Crypt Sermon

The Ruins of Fading Light

8.5 / 10 Crypt Sermon - The Ruins of Fading Light album cover

The evolution of a band is something that most of us can comprehend through their musical output and live appearances and where most bands evolve quite publicly, there are some ...

CJ Ramone

The Holy Spell

8.2 / 10 CJ Ramone - The Holy Spell album cover
200 Words Or Less

As of August 6th, it’s been 23 long, languid year’s since The Ramones played their final show. Since then, all the original members - Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy ...

New Dialogue

Teach Me How to Feel EP

5.0 / 10 New Dialogue - Teach Me How to Feel EP album cover

New Dialogue's Facebook bio states that the Los Angeles-based quintet "speaks for the moment", and with their band name they "assume an important responsibility" -- bold claims from a band ...

Related news

Tours Craig Finn back on the road

Posted Aug. 9, 2019, 11:17 a.m.

Craig Finn, who released new album I Need A New War earlier this year (Partisan Records) will be on tour this fall along with backing band The Uptown Controllers. Thr ...

Tours Craig Finn solo dates in June

Posted Feb. 23, 2019, 1:17 p.m.

Craig Finn, who recently announced a new solo record titled I Need A New War, has now announced a summer solo tour as well. Kicking things off on June 6 ...

Records Craig Finn solo

Posted Feb. 10, 2019, 1:43 p.m.

On April 26, Criag Finn (The Hold Steady) will release a new solo album, I Need A New War on Partisan Records. "Going in, I saw this record as the ...

x

Logo

Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.