There was little chance of this not being one of the best albums of the year even before its release.
I adore Chris Cornell (although I don’t always love everything he does) and my honest opinion of him is that he has given more than most will ever know to rock over these last few years.
If my suspicions are correct, the best may still be to come.
Songbook is what rock gods sounds like when they’re at their best. Stripped back to an old acoustic and an appreciative audience, this is one fine, fine album that no rock fan should even think twice about adding to the collection. What makes it work is the honesty. There’s no pretension here, a smattering of the familiar, a smattering of the not so. It’s incredibly beautiful, utterly compelling and thankfully, flawless. As to what it may do commercially, that’s anybody’s guess. Its been pretty low key so far, so unless you’re looking for it, there’s every chance it will pass you by and that would be a crying shame.
The big talking point of Songbook is Cornell’s voice. After all these years in the field, it’s taken its fair share of abuse and, like the hands of a farmer, has adapted itself to the point that it takes something pretty serious to get through the scar tissue covering it. Capable of reducing any soul to crying in the gutter, the world should be paying more attention to Cornell rather than lamenting those long since passed by – Buckley springs mainly to mind but there are others. What is this fascination we have with worshipping the dead and letting the living go about their business?
Calling on material from his entire career and throwing in some covers in the shape of Thank You and Imagine, whatever your stance, take some time out to at least investigate this because I guarantee you won’t hear anything quite as wonderful as this for a very long time.
You can hear some scraps from it at http://chriscornell.com/