Chris Cornell

Higher Truth

Written by: MIN on 14/02/2016 10:00:27

It is hard to not have heard about Seattle, WA’s Chris Cornell if you are interested in anything related to alternative rock, grunge, or just music made during the 90s that is not Hanson or Scatman John. And should it be the case that you have not, you have probably unintentionally heard at least a few songs from either Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, or one of the other projects he has been a part of. Although his career has had its ups (“Superunknown”, “Badmotorfinger”, “Euphoria Morning”, etc.) and downs (“Carry On”, and especially the Timbaland-infused “Scream”), it has mostly been an interesting ride for the iconic vocalist. His latest outing was the rather successful Soundgarden album “King Animal”, and although this one, “Higher Truth”, doesn not reach its level (nor does it try to, in terms of sound; it is in a completely different genre), it still stands above several other records he has made during his career.

“Higher Truth” has its roots deeply grounded in the American folk- and roots-traditions, and although it is not entirely occupied by the main man himself and his guitar, it is still closer to his previous acoustic live album “Songbook” than anything else he has done in terms of inspiration; do not be surprised if Eddie Vedder’s solo albums come to mind while listening to this. Most songs on “Higher Truth” are semi-acoustic ballads about love or little notions you notice in your everyday life, and those songs that are not, do not stray too far from the simple structures. Sure, songs like the title track and the semi-psychedelic album closer, “Our Time in the Universe”, try to spice things up with either a melodic guitar solo or an Arabian sound – even a piano and some strings tend to show up occasionally – but mostly it is the acoustic guitar or mandolin that is put on a pedestal, often accompanied by some solid drumming (courtesy of Matt Chamberlain, whom Chris Cornell is not unfamiliar with, having played live with Soundgarden several times when drummer Matt Cameron has not been able to).

Several songs on the album work really well: the quiet, intimate “Dead Wishes” rolls nicely down the hill with some deft guitar-picking, a steady beat of the drum and Cornell’s vocals ranging progressively higher as the track unfolds. “Murderer of Blue Skies” is another choice cut with its quirky lyrics about never wanting to be with an ex- again; it has an excellent chorus, some fitting screams, and an instrumentally layered climax featuring a guitar solo, a piano and strange keyboard effects. But there are also the less successful songs like “Josephine”. On this track, Cornell gets a little too close to sounding like Michael Learns to Rock — structurally, it is much too mellow and generic for its own good, and the lyrics are simply atrocious:

My sweet Josephine / Won’t you come and marry me? / I got every kind of love that you would ever need / Dying here on bended knees

Luckily, only a few songs on “Higher Truth” are flat-out bad. The album’s biggest drawback is how forgettable it is. Sure, you might get one or two choruses stuck in your head, but when you have listened to all 45 minutes of the record, it becomes hard to point out which song is “Through the Window” and which one is “Circling” — most songs simply have a tendency to blend together. Production-wise, Brendan O’Brien has done a good job: the record sounds very warm, and there is room for both Chris Cornell and the remaining musicians to unfold just the way they want to, whether it is in a quiet, loud or spacey manner. This attribute, along with Cornell’s aging yet powerful vocals, adds something cozy to the atmosphere that ensures you remain interested throughout the duration of the record. But unfortunately, it also cements the fact that Cornell’s solo stuff is in need of some edge to stand on its own, because most of the time things play out way too safe. The rabid canine from Temple of the Dog might still have a beautiful howl, but once you come closer, you realize that it’s nothing more than a bark without a bite.


Download: Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart, Murderer of Blue Skies, Higher Truth
For The Fans Of: Eddie Vedder, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog

Release date 18.09.2015
Universal Music Enterprises

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