Eddie Vedder – Earthling – Album Review
by Killian Laher
Eddie Vedder’s solo material has been largely more understated than Pearl Jam, until now that is. It opens with Invincible which has a great big wide-open sound, along the lines of Hard Sun from Into The Wild. Vedder sounds really at ease with this kind of material, it’s neither a corny ballad nor punky rabble-rouser, neither of which suit him too well anymore. There’s some excellent guitar work here from Andrew Watt and Vedder and it makes for a strong start to the album. After that? Those who approach this album hoping for quiet material in the vein of his soundtrack to Into The Wild are instead confronted with a whole ragbag of styles. There’s a bit of Do The Evolution-style rock on Power Of Right – Vedder showing his punk attitude with lyrics “fuck the past and fuck your future”. Equally rocking later on the album are the sub three minute Good And Evil and Rose of Jericho. These are serviceable if throwaway rockers that don’t leave much impression. Brother The Cloud is a decent slab of uptempo poppy rock. The lyrics sound like he’s referencing the late Chris Cornell and Vedder’s own brother Chris who died in 2016 as Vedder sings, “I had a brother, but now my brother is gone, I search the skies for a glimpse of his blue eyes”. He goes fully uptempo Springsteen, with a dash of The Who on the very energetic The Dark.
Eddie Vedder sounds a whole lot more comfortable on the very Tom Petty-ish Long Way. Some might dismiss this as MOR but it’s actually a kind of ‘radio-friendly’ driving anthem. Also along similar lines is the strumalong Fallout Today, a really resonant tune for Vedder. The Haves is a gorgeous guitar and piano ballad that avoids being sappy by some fine musicianship and Vedder’s terrific vocal. Unfortunately towards the end of the album, you get a couple of clunkers, the breakneck speed thrash Try which features an incongruous, perky harmonica from Stevie Wonder, which really doesn’t gel with the song. This is followed by Picture which is a duet with Elton John of all people. This would have been hard to imagine in the mid-90s, and it doesn’t sit much better in 2022. It just sounds like an Elton John song, complete with twinkling piano but featuring Eddie Vedder and some heavy-ish guitars. It doesn’t improve with repeat listens either. Ringo Starr also takes a turn on drums on Beatle-y piano ballad Mrs Mills.
The final track, On My Way, is a pleasant surprise, a looped recording of Eddie Vedder’s father, Edward Severson crooning “I’ll be on my wayyyy” combined with Vedder singing in and out of the lines over sweeping keyboards. It makes for quite a flourish to finish the album off. If you’re feeling cruel, you could dismiss this as ‘rich rock star jamming with rich rock star friends’. It’s probably the happiest album Vedder has put his name to, the least cohesive and definitely the most diverse.
Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music
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