Long before there were artists like GOO GOO DOLLS, GREEN DAY & Butch Walker, there was a band called SOUL ASYLUM. But after their success in the early to mid 90's with albums like 'Grave Dancers Union' and 'Let Your Dim Light Shine' and hits like 'Runaway Train' and (one of my all time favorite songs) 'Misery', the band just seemed to fade away. Now, over 8 years since the release of their last studio album, SOUL ASYLUM is poised to take back their crown as the reigning kings of alternative rock...but is it too little too late?
I don't think so...
Their newest release, "The Silver Lining", breathes fresh life into a band that's faced their share of tragedy and heartbreak. The biggest, of course, was the loss of founding member and bassist Karl Mueller who succumbed to throat cancer during the early stages of recording the release. His extraordinary talents will be sorely missed but can still be heard echoing on the tracks 'Stand Up & Be Strong', 'Standing Water', 'Good For You', and 'Slowly Rising'.
For a band that isn't known for its cheerful, upbeat lyrics and style, the first 5 tracks are surprisingly upbeat and almost happy! It's actually a refreshing change and shows the maturity of a band that's ready to put the past behind them and take that huge step forward. All these songs are just great! 'Stand Up & Be Strong' can easily be adopted as the bands 'anthem' while 'Bus Named Desire' is a strong rocker with a solid, melodic chorus you'll be hard pressed not to instantly want to sing along with.
The next two tracks are a bit strange.. but not in a bad way. They both seem to revert back a bit to that old SOUL ASYLUM sound but 'Whatcha Need' has the feel of almost a late 70's EAGLES sound to it. 'Standing Water' continues on in the same vein only the opening guitar riffs and solo are reminiscent of that 'jazzy-guitar' sound ala STEELY DAN.
'Success Is Not So Sweet' is pure SOUL ASYLUM. It's slow, melodic melody and rather morbid but heart-felt lyrics revert more back to their glory days of 'Grave Dancers Union'. 'The Great Exaggerator' is more of the same, as is 'Oxygen' only the melody gets kicked up a notch reminding me more of something off of their 'Let Your Dim Light Shine' release. And as for the last two tracks, 'Good For You' and 'Slowly Rising'...again, they're just pure SOUL ASYLUM at its best. 'Good For You' having that slower, haunting feel to it and 'Slowly Rising' kicks into a hard-rocking, borderline punk-ish rhythm.
"The Silver Lining" has been a long time coming but definitely delivers. Pirner's voice never sounded better and the addition of all the talented musicians who contributed to this release really adds to the creativity and production. SOUL ASYLUM is back and while "The Silver Lining" just misses the mark as far as being compared to some of the bands past releases, it certainly rejuvenates the band in a way that not only SOUL ASYLUM fans will appreciate, but should open the door to a whole new audience as well.
- Dave Pirner - Lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion
- Dan Murphy - Guitar, backing vocals
- Michael Bland - Drums, backing vocals
- John Fields - Bass, background vocals, piano
- Karl Mueller - Bass (1963-2005, R.I.P.) (tracks 1, 7, 11 & 12)
- Tommy Stinson - Bass (tracks 3 & 5), vocals (track 10)
- Kraig Johnson - Guitar (track 8)
- Andy Dee - Lap steel guitar (track 8)
- Jeff Victor - Keyboards (track 1), organ (tracks 4, 6 & 9)
- Joey Huffman - Keyboards (tracks 2, 8, 11 & 12)
- Ken Chastain - Percussion (tracks 1, 4, 6 & 9)
- Andra Suchy - Backing vocals (track 1)
- Kari Shaw - Backing vocals (track 1)
- Bard Meier - Backing vocals (tracks 7 & 10)
- Steve Hodge - Bass (track 11)
- John Woodland - Guitar (track 11)
- Melissa Gorman - Backing vocals (track 11)
- Trina Shoemaker - Backing vocals (track 11)
- Stand Up & Be Strong
- Crazy Mixed Up World
- All Is Well
- Bus Named Desire
- Whatcha Need
- Standing Water
- Success Is Not So Sweet
- The Great Exaggerator
- Good For You
- Slowly Rising