Chris Cornell flew toward the sun with 2009's Scream but he got burned. The Timbaland-produced album marked a sudden shift toward electronic pop, a move that did not sit well with either critics or Cornell's audience, but he didn't react swiftly to the derision. He moved slowly, revisiting his catalog on 2011's Songbook and then reuniting with Soundgarden before releasing Higher Truth some six years after Scream.
There are few voices in rock that are quite as distinctive as Chris Cornell‘s. It is a vocal that has been around for almost three decades, ever since the 51-year-old made his name as the frontman of Soundgarden, and it has continued to serve him well with his subsequent solo projects and with Audioslave, the band he formed with members of Rage Against The Machine. In fact, it was largely down to the American’s gritty, powerful vocal that he was given the prestigious gig of singing the Bond theme for Daniel Craig’s first appearance as the character in 2006’s Casino Royale.
Acoustic solo album from Soundgarden frontman. It’s hard to tell how low-key a release this actually is from Chris Cornell, coming out with relatively little PR fanfare but accompanied by a lengthy North American acoustic tour. It affects a certain upfront intimacy but is produced to a high gloss by Brendan O’Brien – one thinks of an unshaven model in a GQ ad, striking a soul-baring pose.
Soundgarden's Chris Cornell has always had a quiet side, even when the iconic grunge band he fronted was raging like a punk-rock Zeppelin. Here, he and producer Brendan O'Brien craft a set of somber acoustic songs with titles like "Dead Wishes" and "Murderer of Blue Skies." But this is hardly an exercise in folky restraint: O'Brien's backing tracks and Cornell's nuanced growl, all the more burnished with age, infuse roots music with alt-rock dynamics. "Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart" begins with mandolin, then adds drums, fuzzed-out psych guitar and stacked vocals to make for an arena-size porch reverie.
It’s been more than 15 years, and sleepy-eyed Chris Cornell still hasn’t woken from the dream of the ’90s. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of icons remain smitten with the decade in which they ruled some portion of the pop cultural conversation, even if they continue to hurtle around the sun just like the rest of us. But there’s a wax museum quality to the Soundgarden frontman that extends beyond his glazed-over expression and enduring good looks.
Six years later, Chris Cornell has been willing to do just about anything to help people forget his ill-conceived, Timbaland-produced rock’n’B gaffe Scream. Though he’s now taken to calling that record “great” again, he’s used the intervening period to remove himself from that blessed mess. He released a record of acoustic reinterpretations of his earlier songs.