Craig Finn | We All Want The Same Things
Craig Finn gets it. Solo projects are meant for adventure. Going it alone, only to hire a bunch of new guys to approximate what you do in your day job, is pointless. And so, picking up where 2015’s ‘Faith In The Future’ left off, The Hold Steady frontman’s third LP continues his exploration of new sounds and storytelling styles.
Like ‘God In Chicago’. The album’s focal point, its matter-of-fact spoken delivery over a stark piano melody stops you dead in your tracks, pulling you into the narrative of a small-time drug deal. The languid drumming, that drops in just as the between-jobs narrator and his friend’s sister hit the road to Chicago, is a surprise. But the real kicker is when, more than halfway through, Finn suddenly breaks into song, his understated vocal briefly transforming this tale of normal people trying to survive into one of hope – or, at the very least, respite.
‘Birds Trapped In The Airport’ is almost as mesmerising, but for entirely different reasons. Freed of the increasingly rigid bass-drums-chunky electric guitar template of ‘Heaven Is Whenever’ and ‘Hard Teeth’, the track finds Finn embracing icy synths and a tense metronomic pulse, tempering the krautrock edge by intertwining his gauzy vocals with Caithlin De Marrais’ soulful harmonies.
Yet, no matter how adventurous or varied the music gets – from the jazzy trumpet squall that opens the album and later propels ‘Tracking Shot’, to the scratchy guitar solo of ‘Ninety Bucks’ and tender woodwind orchestrations of ‘It Hits When It Hits’ – the arrangements never obscure the short stories that, together with Finn’s voice, are the heart of this album.
Whether he’s describing a couple trying to recapture past glories, co-dependent relationships based on convenience, or people just battling to keep their heads above water, the focus on sharing the minutiae of everyday lives with such empathy ensures that every second of ‘We All Want The Same Things’ rings true.
- ‘We All Want The Same Things’ is released on 24 March. Craig Finn plays The Courtyard Theatre on 19 April. Tickets are available now.