Craig Finn

We All Want the Same Things

Partisan

Apr 20, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

Craig Finn has a way of making the connection from ordinary moments to extraordinary meanings. When we first met him in Lifter Puller and then in The Hold Steady his more-is-more, shot-gunned exuberance blew us away. It was vital and robust, and guzzled up an unseen void in indie-rock. His third solo album bombards us accordingly, just a little closer to the collar.

We All Want the Same Things spits off with pressured words, set to tenderizing guitar and wilting horns, forlorn but raring to go. From the first flicker of the opener "Jester & June," we are caught in the net. It's clear that this is a book that reads fast and furiously and weighs hard on the heart. Finn turns a sentence, and there are invisible dotted lines linking one word to the nextwords that only sound vaguely similar become words profoundly and inextricably symbiotic. Finn's are doomed alleyway characters, tucking into unhealthy co-dependencies, and naturally we can't look away. But it's the overarching human yearning and loneliness that inevitably harpoon us.

"Preludes" swarms in surfy flute, a horn puffing and lapping up Finn's amiable storytelling tide. "It Hits When It Hits" bursts open, as Finn trickles, "One thing about love, it hits when it hits," and he sings about Clamato as if we are hearing about Clamato for the first time. He has us convinced we are.

"God in Chicago" is the matter that holds, wherein the death of a friend, and some shady, unfinished business turns into a life-giving experience. Finn's speak-sing, bone-chillingly cathartic bedside manner fastens against corrugated piano resounding and Annie Nero's vaporous glow. He speaks of getting toothbrushes at Walgreens and feeling God in the buildings. We can picture these things equally somehow. We can picture both the ordinary and the intangible. And the connection is made. We all want the same things. As conversational as Finn is, he spews truths that ultimately quiet us. "Rescue Blues" is a meandering railroader, the chugging drums and guitar, the ins-and-outs of the asterisked lines building and buckling, which culminate in Finn concluding, "Looking off the balcony, well that seems pretty pure to me."

It's the flow of his manic, free-stream poetry, the layered contexts he shoulders us through, and the crisply matched instrumental tide pool ebbing and revealing, which amass into something exceeding their parts. Finn is simply animated from within by a fiction he's cut from his cuffs, a fiction he's ground words from, and these stories, the way they're arranged and told, become impossibly captivating. With his boisterous voice, and his comically deep and deeply comical worldview, we can imagine overhearing his stories in some sort of theoretical staff lounge and being prone to listen right then and there next to the coffeemaker and bulletin board. With We All Want the Same Things, we are equipped with a Craig Finn View-Master and couple of damn fine musical interchanges, and it really doesn't take much more than that. (www.craigfinn.net)

Author rating: 8/10

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