April 23, 2019 Craig Finn – I Need A New War (Album Review)
The frontman/vocalist/guitarist of the 2003-formed American Alternative Rock band The Hold Steady, Craig Finn released his first lone effort—Clear Heart Full Eyes—in 2012 as a way to explore other facets of music. Active with his band at the same time, he was able to pursue his solo career, releasing a couple albums more—2015’s Faith in the Future and 2017’s We All Want the Same Things. His music moved further and further towards the more laidback, bluesy strain of Rock. This will be exhibited again via his forthcoming fourth offering, I Need A New War.
Scheduled to be released on Friday, April 26, 2019, through Partisan Records, I Need A New War was recorded throughout 2018 at The Isokon in Woodstock, NY with Producer Josh Kaufman and Engineer D. James Goodwin, both of whom teamed with Finn on both his previous solo albums. Ten tracks in total, it opens with the bouncy rhythm of “Blankets.” Following next is the slow, horn-adorned drag of “Magic Marker,” which, this early, is showing that the album has influences of Lou Reed (“Walk on the Wild Side”), Johnny Cash (“Hurt”), and Bruce Springsteen (“Streets of Philadelphia”). Afterwards, “A Bathtub in the Kitchen” further pulsates the album’s Heartland Rock sentiments and predilections.
With “Indications,” Finn turns starry-eyed and blue-hearted, as he launches into a ’60s-inspired Rockabilly balladry, exuding echoes of Stray Cats’ “Lonely Summer Nights.” The ensuing “Great at Galena” then takes the listener to an even slower mood and more heartrending headspace. Finn is really stretching the reach of his musical landscape to an even previously uncharted sonic territory.
Possibly to be regarded as an album highlight, “Something to Hope For” is a fun, funky, jazzy, bluesy song; it will fit well onto a playlist that includes The Waterboys’ “Nearest Thing to Hip” and Counting Crows’ “Big Yellow Taxi.” Still in the same style and mood, “Carmen Isn’t Coming In Today” and “Holyoke” are also Blues-oriented, albeit slower songs; Craig’s knack for storytelling is really coming to the fore once again.
The penultimate track, “Her with the Blues” is an even slower and moodier track—a throwback to memory lane, rustic and romantic. Finally, Finn—born on August 22, 1971, in Boston, Massachusetts, wraps up his latest manifesto with the initially minimalistic “Anne Marie Shane,” but whose rhythmic trajectory then builds up into a loungy and ballroom-blitz dance stomper.
Looking back to his humble beginning and taking special notice of the progression of his music style and direction, Finn has really come a long way. From the sense of Alt-Rock urgency of his works with The Hold Steady, his solo musical outputs are a testament of his lyrical maturity, stylistic evolution, and depth as a singer-songwriter. Cryptic Rock gives Finn’s I Need A New War 4 out of 5 stars.