Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Craig Finn

  • Clear Heart Full Eyes [Vagrant, 2012] B+
  • Faith in the Future [Partisan, 2015] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Clear Heart Full Eyes [Vagrant, 2012]
On a wittingly laid-back solo debut where the declamatory Hold Steady frontman knows he can't bring off the country vocals his best songs deserve, he nails three flat-out anyway: "Terrified Eyes" (couple destroyed by their hospital bills), "When No One's Watching" (snazzy scuzzball seeks needy women), and "Balcony" (she does with her new man what she did with her old man back when he was new). The rest tend more, how to say it, evocative. But at least they evoke specifics--Middle American dramatis personae as marginal as Wussy's. B+

Faith in the Future [Partisan, 2015]
The band life has long since seemed all too consuming for the Hold Steady frontman. So for me, the clearest keepers on his best bunch of songs this decade feature non-scenesters like the rootless salvation-seeker of "Maggie I've Been Searching for Our Son" and the 9/11 beer-drinkers on "Newmyers's Roof," or engage an ex-lover like "Sarah, Calling From a Hotel" or a lost one like "Christine." I mean, "Some nights it just seems like the same old thing" is all too perfect a way to begin one called "Going to the Show." And "Trapper Avenue" tells me he should probably lay off the low life too. A-