We All Want The Same Things
If I had to nominate one person to take over the role of God, it would be Craig Finn. The prolific front man of The Hold Steady has always had a way with creating rich, lifelike worlds from mere words. Finn’s knack for generating spontaneous yet vividly alive characters and settings has set him apart from his peers in the indie-rock scene for over a decade. At this point Finn’s world is well documented and loved. But it has also served as a point of stagnancy, with each new album returning to familiar themes and locations centred around a medley of characters that risk being eclipsed by their earlier equivalents.
Thankfully, Finn’s latest solo album, We All Want The Same Things, marks a new and invigorating beginning that draws upon a cast of newcomers from the periphery and places them squarely at the centre. As the album’s title implies, Finn frames this collection of songs around themes of personal fulfillment and resilience. As might be expected, the twist of fate’s cruel hand defines each character’s story with a dark reality of disappointment and personal strife. Standout songs like “Rescue Blues” exemplify Finn’s level of sensitivity and care to individual challenges. A story of companionship between the song’s protagonist and a working class widow living as a back-room clerk at a grocery store and living off of a healthy insurance payout, Finn sets the scene with the most human of characterizations: “I know Jamie from the grocery store / Up on Garden Boulevard / She started out as a cashier / Now she’s in the back / She does scheduling and bookkeeping / She finishes her shift / Gets the bus and meets me back here.” As the details slowly mount, they weave a picture as genuine and believable as any listener’s own life and daily interactions. The same can be said of the characterization of shedding risky adolescent reputations for full adult criminal identities in “Jester and June,” and an uncanny characterization of love’s unlikely but instant pull and vice grip in “It Hits When It Hits.”
It’s also well worth noting that composition structure and instrumental choice further distance Craig Finn from his band’s typical work, communicating with a more relaxed, mellow edge, rather than a simple rigid adherence to conventions defining The Hold Steady. Put far too simply, there’s a less predictable, more creative element that aligns more with the indie side of indie-rock. In a word, the album feels organic and true to itself. There’s no better exemplar than the spoken-word hybrid “God In Chicago.” A piano-based narrative that unfolds in the aftermath of the death of an old friend, the listener feels as if tagging along in the backseat of a fateful roadtrip to settle some “unfinished business” with the sister of a recently deceased friend. You can practically hear the “boombox in the backseat that was running out of batteries, play[ing] Led Zeppelin III,” envision the smile on her face as business transforms into an unforgettable night spent in taverns, on lively street corners, and eating in nameless restaurants. Propped up by a central choral duet featuring female vocal whispers, the song’s climax highlights the album’s underlying melody without reverting back to familiar territory.
“Ain’t it funny how we all get by / but not the way that way that makes us laugh / the lust burns off into handshakes and hugs / in the end it comes down to the cash,” sings Finn in the album’s parting song, “Be Honest.” Such a statement summarizes the sentiment flowing through We All Want The Same Things: that what may have seemed like a good idea at the time often unravels with unanticipated consequences. Each song thrives on a deep reflective capacity that doesn’t shy away from a detailed exposition of challenging outcomes. In fact, most of these tracks are not about life in the moment – but rather focus on the lifetime that follows after that moment has past. Craig Finn’s work always features undeniable highs, it’s just been awhile since a disc has so prominently upheld momentum from start to finish. Unquestionably some of Finn’s most well rounded and passionate work to date.
Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) has announced details for his third full length, We All Want The Same Things, which will be in-stores March 24, 2017 on Partisan Records.
The new track “Preludes” can be heard below.
Craig Finn has announced that he will be heading on tour with Titus Andronicus in March 2016. Finn released his sophomore full length, Faith In The Future, earlier this year and Titus Andronicus released their latest full length, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, earlier this well.
Tour dates are below.
Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) recently appeared on Seth Meyers for has premiered a full stream of “Maggie I’ve Been Searching for Our Son” and “Newmyer’s Roof” from his recent sophomore full length, Faith in the Future, released this past September on Partisan Records.
Watch both performances below.
Faith In The Future
Craig Finn is synonymous with the notion of relatable American rock n’ roll thanks to the hallmark contributions of The Hold Steady. Not the type of riff-roaring, made for radio format typical of America, but rather the gritty, casual bar-rock that revels in life’s real characters and scenarios. The band hit their deepest stride about a decade ago, but Finn remains busier than ever, even if the departure of multi instrumentalist Franz Nicolay continues to haunt them in disappointing recent output like Heaven Is Whenever.
Having launched his solo career a few years back in supplement of The Hold Steady’s output, Finn now seems to be blurring the lines between the two in the shared continuity of his lyrical travels. His sophomore full length, Faith In The Future, revisits many of the same venues and characters first introduced in his earlier career. The primary difference when Finn steps away from his typical band setting presents as a instrumentally tamer experience. Finn seems to be exploring his more subtle side even if the aging characters driving the tunes remain as vibrant and demanding as ever.
In his washed up, prose-born spoken style, Finn saunters along as he describes a fictional world metaphorically coated in a mostly grey pallet. While nothing new for returning fans, the subtle embrace of mostly acoustic strums, horns and piano notes mirrors the ensuing scenarios of characters having since moved beyond the throes of a wasted youth and into the thick of a lost middle age. An air of familiar disappointment comes to dominate song like “Roman Guitars” and “St. Peter Upside Down” as characters like “doubting Thomas” and “St. Peter” make appearances with cynical and and tragic consequence. Not only does the lyrical content hold attention, but these songs embrace their role in hosting one of Faith In The Future’s most melody entrenched and endearing choruses.
Perhaps the most striking revisitation though comes in the chance phone call from the title character in “Sarah, Calling From A Hotel.” “The last thing she said to me, before she hung up the phone was here he comes, oh god I’ve gotta go, here he comes I’ve gotta go,” Finn narrates against the lone plucking of somber guitar strings. While some may feel that the absence of the full band at such moments may make for a less captivating performance, Finn’s always engaging way with words trumps expectations. When Finn is at his most instrumentally exposed, he still presents as that guy that would be a pleasure to sit down with and have hijack the conversation at a downtown coffee shop on the wrong side of town.
Faith In The Future bares Craig Finn’s unmistakable lyrical stamp. While not as remarkable as some of The Hold Steady’s most crowning achievements, Faith In The Future is a suitable reassurance after last year’s middling Heaven Is Whenever. While a handful of filler tracks (i.e. “Trapper Avenue” and “Christine”) perhaps prevent Finn from mirroring past consistency, the album’s many vibrant highlights reinforce Finn’s knack for rich character driven storytelling.
Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) has premiered a full stream of his upcoming sophomore full length, Faith in the Future, which will be in-stores September 11, 2015 on Partisan Records.
Listen to the full disc below. Read More…
Craig Finn (The Hold Steady) has premiered a new song. The track is titled “Maggie I’ve Been Searching For Our Son” and is from his upcoming sophomore full length, Faith in the Future, which will be in-stores September 11, 2015 on Partisan Records.
Listen to the new track here.
NPR has launched a full album stream of Craig Finn‘s upcoming full length, Clear Heart Full Eyes, due out January 24, 2012. The album marks the The Hold Steady frontman’s first foray into solo work.
Listen to the full album here.
The Hold Steady‘s Craig Finn has premiered another new track from his debut album ‘Clear Heart Full Eyes.‘ The song, New Friend Jesus, can be heard here.
The album will be available January 23rd in the UK through Full Time Hobby Records and January 24th in the US through Vagrant Records. It can be preordered here. The first 500 to pre-order the CD will receive a limited edition bandana.
In addition to his headlining U.S. tour starting February 1, Finn has confirmed a European tour supporting The Felice Brothers starting on March 13. The dates are below.
Finn travelled to Austin, Texas in July, removing himself from all familiar surroundings, to record the album with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead) after challenging himself to write a new song every day in his Brooklyn apartment. He commented:
“I had written a bunch of songs that were outside of the norm for The Hold Steady, a little quieter and perhaps more narrative. I wanted to gain some experience and insight into the process of making a record by working with new people.”
Craig Finn has confirmed initial 2012 tour dates supporting his debut solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes, out January 24, 2012 on Vagrant. Tickets go on-sale Friday, November 18. North Carolina’s Mount Moriah will support Finn on most dates.
Listen to Honolulu Blues, the album’s first single, available for streaming via SoundCloud: http://bit.ly/vMpgjJ
Dates can be found below:
Craig Finn, frontman of The Hold Steady, will release a new seven inch single, “Honolulu Blues,” on November 25th. The track serves as a preview of his solo debut which will be out early 2012. The limited edition 7″ vinyl, released with new b-side “Rented Room,” will only be available in select record stores nationwide on Record Store Day’s “Black Friday” sale. Both songs will be available via all digital retailers on November 29.
Produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead) in Austin, Texas earlier this year, Finn‘s solo album features backing by members of White Denim, The Heartless Bastards, Phosphorescent, and Centro-matic.
Finn recently spoke with Pitchfork about the upcoming release. You can read the interview here.