After six years and three albums with Audioslave, the former vocalist of Soundgarden releases his second solo effort, following 1999’s ‘Euphoria Morning’. Having officially called it quits with the ‘Cochise’ band (the remaining members have reformed Rage Against The Machine with Zack de la Rocha), Chris Cornell’s profile has been heightened by his selection to provide the theme tune to the 2006 James Bond movie, ‘Casino Royale’.
Even from opening track ‘No Such Thing’ it is easy to hear why Cornell has decided to pursue a solo career, with a heavy metal riff being mixed with a Latino-style acoustic guitar to give more variation than it possible to imagine Audioslave utilising. Indeed, what follows displays an appreciation for many genres, with ‘Poison Eye’ edging toward funk (and featuring a jagged solo that could have come from Tom Morello), ‘Safe And Sound’ leaning toward blues and ‘Finally Forever’ having a folk vibe. Less experimental is ‘Your Soul Today’ which romps along in classic rock style and ‘She’ll Never Be Your Man’, which has a power chord-charged chorus and a fantastically twisted solo which unfortunately ends too soon.
Two songs stand out from the rest on ‘Carry On’, not because the others are bad, but because the duo is stunning. ‘Arms Around The World’ is a mellow track with some wonderful guitar melodies that back a fantastic vocal performance – it’s easy to appreciate why it was selected to be a single. The other track is one that is often the best of the 1980’s, Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’. Wisely a reworking as opposed to a simple cover, Chris Cornell turns it into a sombre, acoustic tune that taps into the mournful nature of the lyrics. With more emotion than the original ever possessed, it is certainly worth hearing, even if it will never be as popular as the original. It is a measure of the man’s talent and confidence to successfully take a legendary song in a completely new direction and backs up his decision to go it alone.
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