Release Date: Apr 26, 2019
Record label: PTKF
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Small-town stories, bigger lessons. I don't know Craig Finn - personally, or even musically - but after listening to I Need A New War, I feel like I've known him my whole life. There's something about the music he writes on this album that makes you feel depressingly at home.
On his fourth solo album, Craig Finn further refines his storytelling. I Need a New War is a sumptuous portfolio of melancholy tales that pull us into a naturalistic, urban Midwest. It's rarely useful to compare song lyrics to literature, but the Hold Steady frontman is writing at a level that demands a literary correlative. Finn's stories feature unreliable narrators voiced with nuance, and narratives that may soar into abstraction but always return to earth on some marvelous, carefully plucked detail.
Peering through the window on lives that are not your own, you not only view the pitfalls and successes, but the lengths and measures which people are willing to go to, just to make it through. On I Need A New War, Craig Finn 's fourth solo record, and third of an intended trilogy examining the minutiae of his characters' lives, he once again creates parallel worlds to get lost in; snapshots of existence that taper into your own. Finn is a wanderer.
There's not a lot of sunshine in Craig Finn's world. His songs are full of people whose lives are going in the wrong direction, partly because of bad luck but mostly as a consequence of poor choices and a lack of options. Poverty, drug addiction, and depression are recurring themes in his lyrics, and the moody tone of his melodies reinforces the dour mood in these songs.
Craig Finn calls I Need A New War the conclusion to a trilogy he began with 2015's Faith In The Future and continued with 2017's We All The Same Things. but like so many rock 'n' roll triads, it only came into focus in hindsight. At its outset, neither Finn nor his fans assumed he was on a grand journey; he was merely experimenting with softer, quieter territory.
Craig Finn has lived his life within portraits of others. No one captures the moment quite the way he does, balancing snapshots of sadness and warmth with painful care, as if he'd heard the tales of Nebraska and decided to spend a career digging even deeper. Characters in Finn's work tend to be caught in big moments: witnessing or partaking in crime, cheating or being cheated on, going on illicit road trips in the wake of a friend's death, or having their very belief systems thrown into question or shattered.