Review Summary: Chris Cornell knows how to sing and he does a lot of it on his second solo album, Carry On. And on and on and on he goes....ad nauseam
Poor Chris Cornell. He of the golden pipes and the bands that don't give a damn. Springing from Seattle among a bunch of plaid wearing depressives, Chris was the singer for one Soundgarden. If the “grunge” movement had it's own Led Zeppelin, it was Soundgarden. And Chris was out front as it's Robert Plant. My how times change.
Fast forward a decade and Chris has seen a new band come and go and put a solo project behind him. No longer a grungy dude from the great northwest but rather a 40 something living in France with his family, it seems Chris has decided he is a singer. Not that he hasn't always known it, but on his second solo effort Carry On
, he is clearly taking the lead to show us. Sometimes all too clearly, Chris Cornell wants you to know he is not just a singer, but a vocalist
. Mixed results ensue.
The lacking part of this mix it seems is Chris and producer Steve Lillywhite have decided to toss focus and fluidity out the window in favor of riding on those aforementioned golden pipes of Cornell's. From the opening track of this 14 song showcase for Chris's vocal chops, the album lacks cohesion and direction. The blast of modern rock that is the opening No Such Thing
sits next to the quirky, pop infused Poison Eye
, with Cornall over singing accordingly on the latter track. And this is followed by the made for radio cut Arms Around Your Love
and Black Crowes style southern rock of Safe And Sound
. “I've never seen but I believe / In the promised land!.” Chris sings, out front of some true blue gospel horns. It's enough to make me want to go wash my sins in the dirty 'ol river of truth. Meh, maybe not.....
And that's just the first four songs. The next ten are no picnic to rummage through, either. Cornell seems very much a fish out of water on this album, traversing Robert Palmer style white boy funk on tracks such as She'll Never Be Your Man
, and taking on an ill advised cover of Micheal Jackson's Billie Jean
, turning the old dance hit into a slow, bombastic blues number. And even on softer cuts such as Scar On The Sky
and the lovely roots rock inspired Finally Forever
, Chris seems to not understand the meaning of the word subtlety.
Which is not a bad thing, necessarily. But a voice like Cornell's needs an outlet even Soundgarden and Audioslave never gave him, although more appropriate then what we find here. Chris has a size 14 voice, and on Carry On
he's trying to stuff it into a size 10 shoe. It just doesn't fit. Nothing is wrong with it, but this collection of modern rock, ballads, and the occasional change up manages to miss the mark altogether and not showcase Cornell's talents, but rather make less of them. He sounds trapped in these songs, not part of them. And that disconnect is more then this album can overcome.
is not a bad album, nor is it a good one. Straight down the middle, playing all sides against one another, that is it's calling card. And all sides are designed to show that Chris Cornell is worthy of being placed among rocks great howlers. And while that is debatable, Chris's vocal work on Carry On
is certainly nothing to be scoffed at, but nor is it any better then many other hard rock wailers that have come down the line. Maybe one day Cornell will find a band that can hold its own against his enormous pipes, but until then I suppose old Soundgarden albums will have to do. Chris Cornell, vocalist
. Nice, but better luck next time.