Dave Pirner: Faces & Names (Ultimatum)

Like New Orleans, it is a gumbo, a mixture of musical styles. New Orleans is one of those few cities that allows an individual to fully express himself. As a city, it thrives on decadence, indulgence, and creativity. After Soul Asylum’s first show in New Orleans nearly 15 years ago, Dave Pirner had fallen in love with the city at the end of the Mississippi. Before the release of Soul Asylum’s last record, 1998’s Candy From a Stranger, Pirner rented an apartment in the edge of the French Quarter. After fronting Soul Asylum for 20 years, it was time to step away from the safety net of a band and tackle the challenge of making a solo album.

From the beginning, Faces & Names is not a great album; instead, it a solid mixture of rock, soul, and R&B influenced songs. Like New Orleans, it is a gumbo, a mixture of musical styles. As the story goes, producer-to-the-stars Daniel Lanois was looking to sell his mansion in New Orleans, home to the legendary Kingsway Studio. Pirner saw this as an opportunity to record at the notorious studio before it was put to rest. Lyrically, on Face & Names, we find Pirner to be a little more upbeat than usual. The songs seem to float between confessional numbers and soulful rockers and ballads. For Soul Asylum fans, this is a different-sounding album that is still worth a listen. As fans, we tend to want our artists to not explore new territories, which is a shame. Faces & Names is an album that Pirner should be proud of and fans of Soul Asylum should give a chance.

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