Appropriately enough for a Sunday radio show, self-described “lapsed Catholic” Craig Finn, frontman for The Hold Steady, finds religious metaphors looming large in his new solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes, out this Tuesday. Juggling images of the Apostle Islands and the Biblical apostles right out of the box, Finn mines a larger-scope version of the interesting territory he’s mined in his band environment.
So, is The Hold Steady in trouble? Not at all – the album was recorded during four months of downtime for the band last year, and it finds him in other stylistic modes that may not be as easy to pull off in his band’s normal context, including the quasi Dead (or at least Ryan Adams Cold Roses era) -influenced “When No One’s Watching” (in which someone’s been listening to Jerry Garcia pretty intently, going by the lead guitar). ”Not Much Left of Us” is another highlight, from the false-start rehearsal rundown in the opening seconds, through the body of the song proper. Overall, the album is gently epic, making no big deal out of itself, and yet becomes quietly surprising on repeat explorations.
Hear a bouquet of standout tracks, including the above, on this week’s OverEasy with Todd Berryman, Sunday from 7 to 11 am AND pm, on 92.3 WTTS.