Chirs Cornell CD review by Peter Larson
Jul 2, 2007, 07:54
CHRIS CORNELL Carry On CD
Although Cornell has fronted heavyweights such as Soundgarden and the highly acclaimed Audioslave, one can only guess that CC works best on his own. This is entirely apparent on his two solo releases, 1999's Euphoria Morning and the most recent, Carry On. Cornell never seemed comfortable with Audioslave; the tunes never reached a cohesion that existed on the early Soundgarden releases. Even as Soundgarden progressed, you got the feeling that it just became “Chris Cornell and the Other Guys.” Clearly he's a lone wolf and nowhere did that shine more than on his first solo outing, Euphoria Morning, a masterpiece of a record that showed Cornell to be the diverse performer he is. While solo records are often either two-dimensional or stylistically patchy and loose, Euphoria Morning gave Cornell free reign, penning such gems as “Wave Goodbye,” “Flutter Girl” and his magnificent performance of “When I'm Down.” While Soundgarden may have channeled Zep and Black Sabbath, Cornell's first solo effort was equal parts Jeff Buckley and Joe Cocker, but executed with the same fervor that we had grown accustomed to all those years.
Then came Audioslave, which, unfortunately, preempted another Cornell solo release for 8 years. Although respectable on its own terms, Cornell never seemed to fit in with the Rage guys. There always appeared to be a tug of war over songwriting, leading the tunes to sound like both parties had clipped their wings, so to speak. The three Audioslave records are okay but certainly never lived up to their expected potential.
Given all that, you would think that a new Cornell solo outing would be just what the doctor ordered but unfortunately, that's just not the case. Vocally, Cornell has never been more expressive. Clearly the man knows his musical history, reaching deep into the pot and pulling out Plant, Cocker, Buckley, the Staples Sisters, the Chambers Brothers, Lou Rawls and a host of others—Cornell pulls it off with the dedication and precision of a true craftsman, all the while never ignoring his own signature howls. However, the songwriting on the record falls flat. Euphoria Morning had probably been stewing for about a decade before it came out. The tunes felt like they were all the things that Cornell couldn't do with Soundgarden and, given the opportunity, he jumped face first into the project. Carry On, on the other hand, feels like it was strung together in the few months between Audioslave and this record's release as a complement for his intended solo tour and nothing else. There are standouts: the first track “No Such Thing” is the most energetic of the bunch and what we might expect from the guy who gave us “Outshined” but then he follows it with the nonsensical “Poison Eye” and then the watered down “Arms Around Your Love,” a piece of light rock droll that forces me to hit the “skip” button. “Scar on the Sky” is a winner although the acoustic version in his live set is much better. The rework of “Billie Jean” would have made a great stand-alone single but just serves to shadow everything else on the record and makes the other tunes seems kind of pointless. “She'll Never Be Your Man” is probably the best tune on the record except for the bonus track “You Know My Name” which, technically, isn't even a part of Carry On. The record could have been better with some editing and a little help from some heavy rock friends. Not a bad record at all, and it will probably please some indy/adult-contemporary fans but it let this reviewer down a little. Fortunately, the live show is the best I've seen in years. One can only hope that the next record will be more of what is expected. [Interscope]