A & M Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: George Agnos
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/21/2000
A lot of alternative rock fans were disappointed when the band Soundgarden decided to call it quits. Finally last year, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell came out with his first solo CD since the breakup called Euphoria Morning.
So, has Cornell satisfied Soundgarden fans' hunger for grunge or has he forged off into a different direction? The answer is a little of both, which may have been a smart move for him at this point.
No doubt most of you have heard the single, "Can't Change Me." Cornell has written a nice pop song to start off the CD. The song is tuneful and has a clever but simple lyric. There is a hint of the Rolling Stones song "Paint It Black" in it, but just enough for flavor. In short, it's a perfect single.
The rest of the CD doesn't come together quite as beautifully as "Can't Change Me," but that does not mean it doesn't have its moments. "Preaching To The End Of The World" is a very effective Radioheadesque ballad. It shows that Cornell has been listening to what's going on in the music world.
"When I'm Down" is Cornell's stab at singing the blues. I think he has one of the most powerful voices in rock, and if anyone in the alternative world could pull off singing the blues, it's him. He does an admirable job although he does come close to Michael Bolton overkill toward the end of the song. More on target is "Wave Goodbye," a lighter blues song that he nails.
The weird thing about Euphoria Morning is that the songs that Cornell writes himself are the ones that show him covering new territory. But it is the ones that he co-wrote with Alain Johannes and Natasha Schneider that have more of a Soundgarden feel to them. It's as if he wants to move forward but his partners want to keep him glued to the past.
That said, some of these songs do work. "Flutter Girl" is a solid middle ground between pop songwriting and alternative rock edginess that comes off well. "Mission" is a gritty rocker that will reassure Soundgarden fans that, yup the guy can still rock. "Pillow Of Your Bones" has some chilling imagery, and the arrangement complements the song effectively.
But then there's "Disappearing One" which sounds like watered down Soundgarden, lacking the sonic power of his old band, and "Steel Rain" which has the sonic push but is unfocused and rambling.
Overall, Euphoria Morning should please Cornell's more broad minded fans, disappoint those wanting another Soundgarden CD, and possibly pick up a few new fans in the process. Euphoria Morning is a good CD, but I get the feeling that Cornell hasn't quite hit his stride as a solo performer, so let's hope for continued growth on subsequent efforts.