Change Of Fortune

Soul Asylum

Entertainment One, 2016

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It may take a while for you to realize this is a Soul Asylum record.

There is very little here that resembles the Soul Asylum of old, which is to be expected when you swap out every musician over time except one. So those expecting rehashes of "Runaway Train," "Misery," and "Somebody To Shove" are out of luck. This is a good thing; who wants to rehash the same hits over and over, especially those that were little more than competent adult alt-rock in the first place?

Singer and co-founder Dave Pirner is the only original member left and has opted to steer the band in a new direction, with short, pop-rock songs that hew closer to the band's original '80s sound and the commercially successful power-pop-rock of the end of the '90s. You can imagine several of these songs on any movie soundtrack of 1999.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The jangly power-pop of "Doomsday," cheerfully discussing the end of the world, and the mildly uplifting "Ladies Man" will likely draw in new fans who enjoy bands like Switchfoot and Goo Goo Dolls. "Can't Help It" rides a successful Zeppelin riff, though Pirner approaches it the same way Lenny Kravitz does – less inspiration and more homage – and then shouts the vocals to the verses. It plays better than it sounds.

Pirner also reveals some inspiration from latter-day Stone Temple Pilots on "Dealing" and "Make It Real" (sounding so much like something Scott Weiland would write that I wonder if it's a tribute). It's pretty good, though, and actually most of these songs are pretty good, with at least one catchy riff or vocal hook (check out the chorus on "When I See You"). It may be a little bit out of time, but Soul Asylum never really sounded like their time period anyway; "Runaway Train," which won a Grammy, was far too adult for most of what was popular in 1992.

To Pirner's credit, this disc never tries to re-create that success but instead hews closer to the actual Soul Asylum sound, one that fans know about but casual fans may not. To his detriment, this sound doesn't expand on what others have done nor is it sustainable for an entire disc, and the disc starts to blend together in a generic haze during the last four songs. 

It's not a great album, but it's an interesting one that shows a band comfortable in its middle age, not looking back to nostalgia, not really reaching beyond their comfort zone, but still bringing an energetic adult disc that zips by in a zippy 39 minutes. Pity that the entirety of the disc doesn't measure up to its best moments.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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