Chris Cornell: Carry On
Chris Cornell - Carry On - [Interscope Records]


Would you like to hear Eddie Vedder going "A B C, 1 2 3. Baby, you and me"? Or Scott Weiland shouting "Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it. No one wants to be defeated"? Or even the late Lane Staley with "You know I'm bad, I'm bad. You know it"? How about a melancholic Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley-like version of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" done by none other than Chris Cornell? Nope, neither would I.

The cover picture suggests it, the song titles and lyrics do too, and the whole design does as well – without listening to a single track from "Carry On" one would've guessed Chris Cornell is now a single-songwriter. So far so good, but there's just this tiny little bit of information that doesn’t fit into this fantasy – the music on it. Judging by the actual songs, this one just doesn't seem to get enough air out as it got in to look so buff. So since Cornell is one of the best vocalists ever to encounter the human ear, it is with much sorrow that this album is declared as lame. But for his sake, he did try.

Even before this solo effort, the responses towards Chris's recent departure from Audioslave were parted: some thought it is a bad career move, for his trademark vocal contrast fit Tom Morello's high-voltage guitars perfectly and would continue to for at least a few more years, but were thrilled to hear Rage Against The Machine are back, while others thought Audioslave said exactly what they had to say in the three albums they did manage to release, and (of course) were thrilled to hear that Rage Against the Machine are back. At 43 years of age, with about 15 of those in grunge (Soundgarden/Temple Of The Dog, anyone?), and another 6 in Audiosalve, after so much experience on stage and off stage (the ladies will agree he is a handsome man), it is clear why the album is so impotent. Fatigue. When a man reaches that age, as legendary as he may be, there are consequences- getting fatigued more easily, being less wild, using less distortion, writing differently…

Regardless, "Carry On" starts off pretty well. "No Such Thing" has the crunch you'd expect from this dude and the vocals just elevate it to being a standout; kudos to Nir Zidkyahu for the great drumwork too. Follower "Poison Eye" shifts, as expected, to a lower gear but only to be a stable Harley-riding southern number. Seconds after the good backwards solo in it, the album shows signs of the problems to follow; there's this overall feeling of "what was he thinking?" on the way to the last refrain.

Only advice I can give ya'll is to skip most of "Carry On", especially the splattered with gospel "Safe And Sound", odd country number "She'll Never Be Your Man" or even odder upbeat song "Ghosts".
Other parts to skip? The insipid first half of "Killing Birds" (the second one is pretty much ok), the overly plain "Finally Forever", the first-year-drama-student acting "Silence The Voices", and the album's crowning glory – the aforementioned "Billy Jean" cover.

Among the better, but not outstanding, cuts there's "Scars On The Sky", which softens it's way in, as if it were a dog with its tail between its legs, knowing it just did a bad thing ("Billy Jean") and is about to receive some discipline. Another good cut – "Your Soul Today" – follows and makes you forget all about disciplining; this old dog still knows a couple of capturing tricks, the backing keys just get you placated. "Disappearing Act" is an OK emotional mellow number and "You Know My Name", which glues an orchestra to Cornell's voice in a James Bond single – both close the album with a lot less than a bang, more like going to sleep early on a Friday.

Those expecting to find another Audioslave album or fantasizing about a Soundgarden album are in for a surprise. Even in the over-used comparison to Cornell's first solo effort, "Euphoria Morning", this one may sell more copies overall but it is hardly as good in quality. One look at well-known producer Steve Lillywhite's past producer albums list is enough to know what album to skip and exactly why, how and where Cornell's mighty voice is being hidden; Over-polished production/progression strangles full head voices like Cornell's.

On the plus side, this is a great singing lesson for anyone ever to hold a microphone on stage, or a shower head in bathroom. A few of numbers do work ("No Such Thing", "Poison Eye", "Your Soul Today") and it does grow on you, even if it does grow just to fit that long and not so interesting drive to your mother-in-law; It beats listening to your wife nagging, that's for sure.

Ofer Vayner

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