|Craig Finn||We All Want The Same Things|
Craig Finn — We All Want The Same Things (March 24, 2017) χ♦ “With We All Want the Same Things, Craig Finn sounds as comfortable as ever in his own skin.”
Born: August 22, 1971 in Boston, MA
Genre: Alternative, Singer~Songwriter
Location: Brooklyn NY
Album release: March 24, 2017
Recorded: Finn recorded the album mostly in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Record Label: PTKF/Partisan Records
01 Jester & June 3:59
02 Preludes 4:16
03 Ninety Bucks 3:42
04 Birds Trapped in the Airport 4:42
05 God in Chicago 4:46
06 Rescue Blues 4:15
07 Tangletown 4:30
08 It Hits When It Hits 5:27
09 Tracking Shots 3:37
10 Be Honest 4:50
℗ 2017 Partisan Records
χ♦ Craig Finn, Vocals, guitarist
χ♦ Joe Russo on drums,
χ♦ Sam Kassirer, keyboardist
χ♦ Caithlin De Marrais, vocalist of Rainer Maria,
χ♦ Annie Nero, singer/songwriter
χ♦ Stuart Bogie, horn master
χ♦ John Shaw,
χ♦ Jordan McLean,
χ♦ Matt Barrick and Finn’s longtime partner in The Hold Steady,
χ♦ Tad Kubler, guitarist.
χ♦ Shortly after the release of ‘Faith in the Future’ in September 2015, Craig Finn got together with producer Josh Kaufman to talk about making another record. He had been writing a ton, and wanted to follow up quickly on the last album. He had been thinking about love and partnership in modern times, and had written a lot of songs about couples. Love seems like the biggest mystery in our modern days no amount of science or advances in technology can help us fully understand the notion of love and the role it plays in our lives. But Finn also thought about the search for love as an antidote for loneliness, and how so often modern partnership can be an alignment of self interests. We make teams with each other to combat the world around us. There is a beauty in that for sure, but it also can fray around the edges. We lean against each other to keep ourselves upright, make uneasy truces, and push forward into uneasy times. The songs Finn had written dwelled on this. Finn and Kaufman started working in short sessions starting November 2015 and kept it going over the next year. As on ‘Faith in the Future’, percussionist Joe Russo and engineer Dan Goodwin were prominent parts of the sessions. They had developed a vocabulary and a style of working that felt comfortable maybe like a band making their second or third record. That said, they also wanted create something different and new, so they invited a lot of other people to collaborate. They held a big session at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck NY in Spring 2016 that yielded most of the songs that made final cut, and finished by inviting friends and family to help with overdubs over the summer in Brooklyn. Before long they had a record that they loved, and Finn’s most melodic album to date. They named this collection “We All Want The Same Things” after a line in the song “God in Chicago”. It seems like a bit of dark humor in these turbulent political times, but it also rings true: no matter our differences we all have some very basic wants and needs that line up with each other. The characters in these songs are normal people trying to help themselves, trying to move forward, and in some cases trying just to survive. All the while they are negotiating what space the others in their lives can occupy. Craig Finn will be on tour with Japandroids this February and March 2017 ahead of the album’s release. The NY Times describes Finn as “a poetic storyteller and portraitist of people adrift and clawing their way forward in a depressed American landscape,” and Noisey has called him, “one of America’s most perceptive and consistently rewarding contemporary songwriters. Craig Finn is someone from whom you always want to hear more.”
BY JOSH HURST, MARCH 13, 2017 / Score: ***½
χ♦ After six releases with the Hold Steady, three with the defunct Lifter Puller, and, now, a third solo album, Craig Finn sounds as comfortable as ever in his own skin, clear about both his craft and vision. Throughout We All Want the Same Things, he largely stays in his lane, though he slyly risks finding new wrinkles in a familiar sound. He still writes wordy songs set in the Twin Cities, about characters feeling adrift and looking for meaningful connections, but they don’t sound as stoic in their stabs at heartland rock as they did on Finn’s previous solo efforts, which were less vibrant and varied.
χ♦ The album’s opening track, “Jester & June,” begins with the skronk of a saxophone, more Ornette than Clarence Clemons, even as the song quickly congeals into a shimmering anthem, complete with some wah~wah guitar, stately harmony vocals, and the cling and clatter of hand percussion. Finn sports some new sonic threads here, but he’s still chasing after his muse down the same back alleys, through dive bars and empty parking lots, trying to get a glimpse of that special something that once gripped the song’s two characters but, as things often do in life, deteriorated with time.
χ♦ “With We All Want the Same Things, Craig Finn sounds as comfortable as ever in his own skin.”
χ♦ One of the album’s themes is how desire pulls us together but how our own uncertainties sabotage most attempts at a real connection. “Preludes,” the closest Finn comes to offering a manifesto, is a sleek, propulsive pop number that finds its narrator returning home after a long time away. “Things have progressed and got strange,” he observes. Through it all, he repeats his belief that “God watches us,” and it’s not really clear who he’s trying to convince.
χ♦ Sometimes, We All Want the Same Things hungers for the kinetic energy that the Hold Steady’s albums possess in spades. It’s understandable that Finn would want his solo work to shift its focus to words and vocals, but flourishes like the tepid horn refrain on “Tangletown” — here to provide texture more than momentum — underscore how turgid some of the songs here can sound, especially in the back half. “God in Chicago” is essentially a spoken~word narrative, and one’s interest in it will hinge entirely on how compelling one finds Finn’s after~hours world~building and religious obsessions. If nothing else, though, it’s noteworthy for how well it encapsulates the quiet confidence of Finn’s craft. He’s been called “talky” before, of course, so it’s not exactly a surprising move, yet it’s a new color in his palette.
χ♦ We All Want the Same Things is cut from the same cloth as everything Finn’s done before as an artist, but it isn’t quite fair to call it more of the same. The way an album feels matters, and this one feels comfortable — and self~possessed in a way that his other solo albums aren’t. Even when Finn introduces a few new tricks, the assurance behind his skill is quietly charming.
By Brian F. Johnson
χ♦ Finn went on to explain that the song, and in fact his writing in general, is a similar escape. “You know there’s this really great essay that Jonathan Francis wrote that I read a while back about how fiction is a form of meditation — reading fiction. And I think writing fiction is in some way too. If you can get into that world; if you’re out of your own and that is cool. I could really see that couple [from the song]. I knew what they looked like. I could see them and I liked them and I wanted them to have a good adventure.” χ♦ http://marqueemag.com/2017/03/craig-finn/
χ♦ Clear Heart Full Eyes (2012)
χ♦ Faith in the Future (2015)
χ♦ We All Want the Same Things (2017)
|Craig Finn||We All Want The Same Things|
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