Release Date: Mar 24, 2017
Record label: Partisan
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Very few artists can drop you down in the middle of a slice of life and then show you the whole pizza pie quite like Craig Finn. The frontman for The Hold Steady discovered on his last solo release, 2015's Faith In The Future, that there was value in toning down the power chords and giving his musical short stories space to breathe. We All Want The Same Things continues in that same vein; if there's any difference, it's that the stories might be even more engrossing this time around.
The low-key strum of 2012's Clear Heart Full Eyes was well-earned respite from the cacophonous rock of his day job while 2015's Faith in the Future was a sophisticated, subdued record that perhaps allowed the wheels to drift too close to the middle of the road at times. On We all Want the Same Things (titled for a line on the record but also selected for its ironic political relevance) we're hearing Finn tighten and hone his lyrical craft; his narratives are stronger, more pointed, yet the world he creates is as vivid and evocative as that which he's spun across the finest of The Hold Steady 's output. There's nothing here musically that will exhilarate or energise the way a "Sequestered In Memphis", "Stuck Between Stations" or "Positive Jam" surely did, nothing you're likely to be spilling your whiskey to at the front of a sweat-soaked pit - but that's kinda the point.
Listening to Craig Finn apart from the Hold Steady took some getting used to. In that band, Tad Kubler's buoyant guitar riffs hold equal sway with Finn's lyrics, and hearing the latter without the former seemed incomplete at first. Yet Finn's eye for detail and deft turns of phrase soon showed his solo material for what it is: another side of a singer with plenty to say.
Craig Finn has a way of making the connection from ordinary moments to extraordinary meanings. When we first met him in Lifter Puller and then in The Hold Steady his more-is-more, shot-gunned exuberance blew us away. It was vital and robust, and guzzled up an unseen void in indie-rock. His third solo album bombards us accordingly, just a little closer to the collar.
Craig Finn loves filling his music with stories. So much so, you suspect that if the Hold Steady vocalist ever tried his hand at a minimalist techno album he'd still manage to cram the thing full of themes, characters and slowly unfolding plots. As it is, his third solo album, We All Want the Same Things, sticks to the earthy indie of the rest of his non-Hold Steady output, lacking some of his main band's last-orders rumbustiousness but sharing the same spirit of blue-collar romanticism.
If with The Hold Steady, it felt like Craig Finn was writing the Great American Novel - a sprawling, intertwining narrative of familiar characters and recurring events across six records - as a solo artist he's proving himself to be more of a short story writer, a rock and roll Raymond Carver, and he's never sounded more comfortable than on this record. Where the ground covered on Faith in the Future felt at times uneasy and anxious, there's a more positive frame of mind on display here. God In Chicago, practically a spoken word piece with a simple piano backdrop, tells the story of a couple pushing to the next stage of a relationship, with the title line acting like an anchor to keep them safe throughout it.
Craig Finn has never written a song like " God in Chicago ." Sure, the plot points should be familiar to anyone who's followed his work since Lifter Puller or the Hold Steady . There's kissing in the streets; there's salvation in an unexpected place; there's drugs; there's a busted boombox playing Led Zeppelin III . But in "God in Chicago," the spoken-word piano ballad centerpiece of Finn's stunning new album, it feels heavier, like all his songs are contained in this one.
After six releases with the Hold Steady, three with the defunct Lifter Puller, and, now, a third solo album, Craig Finn sounds as comfortable as ever in his own skin, clear about both his craft and vision. Throughout We All Want the Same Things, he largely stays in his lane, though he slyly risks finding new wrinkles in a familiar sound. He still writes wordy songs set in the Twin Cities, about characters feeling adrift and looking for meaningful connections, but they don't sound as stoic in their stabs at heartland rock as they did on Finn's previous solo efforts, which were less vibrant and varied.
The Upshot: Hold Steady mainman serves up verve, swagger, poignancy, and cool - not unlike the Hold Steady, in fact. BY LEE ZIMMERMAN With a steady solo career well underway, and a hiatus from the Hold Steady taken at ongoing intervals, Craig Finn continues to etch an identity that, while not all that far removed from his day job, still manages to show him to be an authority figure all on his own. Bearing a title that speaks as a mantra that ought to be well heeded, We All Want the Same Things is a bold statement, full of Everyman anthems, confidence and credence.
Craig Finn broadcasts his third solo record, 'We All Want the Same Things' from the fringes of American life. The album opens with a drug deal, Craig’s protagonist on 'Jester and June' heading to the bar bathroom to find the contraband under the trash can. It's both relatable and not, but his gift as a songwriter lies in finding universal truths from these small, subjective moments.
Craig Finn is a guy with a lot to say -- often within the span of a single song or sentence, for that matter. His verbose wordplay has been shouted atop the Hold Steady's songs for more than a decade now, but he's no newcomer to solo records, either. We All Want the Same Things marks the third one-man effort from Finn, and unsurprisingly, it presents a collection of narrative-driven songs. Finn manages to cram character development, plot, imagery and, often, metaphor into each song, and the end result reads like a collection of short musical stories rather than cohesive chapters in a single novel. "Preludes" easily conjures comparison to the Hold Steady with its tale of a drunken forlorn youth returning to his home of St.
On We All Want the Same Things Craig Finn continues to carve out a niche as a solo artist distinct from his band the Hold Steady. This album, his third, feels like a natural progression from 2015's Faith in the Future, and it's probably no coincidence that it was also produced by Josh Kaufman. Finn continues to tell his stories in his usual sing-speak style, but sonically he keeps the music low-key.