American rock musician and singer-songwriter Chris Cornell rose to fame in the nineties as the writer and rhythm guitarist for the Seattle based rock band Soundgarden. Since the band`s breakup in 1997, Cornell has steadily crafted his name as a solo artist, having released a handful of critically-acclaimed solo albums and a beautifully iconic acoustic rendition (and oft covered by X-Factor contestants allegedly “making the song their own”) cover of Michael Jackson`s Billie Jean, to perhaps the pinnacle of his career to date, penning and performing the theme for the Bond movie Casino Royale.
Despite his best efforts, however, Cornell has failed to become a household name around the world. This may be set to change though with the release of his fourth studio album, Higher Truth.
Stripped of any elaborate production, Higher Truth sees Cornell laid bare. This is not the heavy rock that we have perhaps come to expect of the singer, but rather a simple and elegant expression of an intelligent and mature songwriter. Opening with the melodic and reassuringly familiar Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart, Cornell prepares the listener for what is to come; a portfolio of his pure and raw talent.
Cornell`s inspirations are clearly on display throughout the album, with knowing nods to various artists without ever feeling like a pale daguerreotype. Country-rock number Only These Words has an imminent feel of Bruce Springsteen about it, whilst the plinky-plonky joy of the fifth trasck, Through the Window has delightful whiffs of classic Simon and Garfunkel. There is also a very clear likening to Jon Bon Jovi`s solo work here too, but one cannot help but liken the two, each with their husky yet lucid vocals.
Filled with grit and pain, and at the same time beauty and elegance, Higher Truth is a delight for fans of the genre and will surely see Cornell coming further into the public eye. Lyrically intelligent and touching from start to finish, Cornell shows himself as the artist he has always aspired to be. Finally a solo album to be truly proud of.
5 / 5
Higher Truth is available now on iTunes and from all good retailers.