Chris Cornell – "Songbook" Album Review — 5 out of 5 stars
Thu, 17 Nov 2011 09:42:10
On his brand new solo acoustic live album, Songbook, every side of Chris Cornell shines.
Right before launching into "Can't Change Me" from Euphoria Morning, he tells an engaging anecdote about the song.
"You at some point try to be a better person and change your ways to make everyone happy, and then that goes on for a while," he exclaims. "Then, you get to a point where you're like, 'Fuck it, I'm me!' And then you write a song called 'Can't Change Me'."
It's those moments of revealing levity that made Cornell's Songbook tour unforgettable and now they make the album an undeniable gem. Cornell sounds flawless singing "Can't Change Me", adding soulful heft to the already robust refrain. Each note and lyric resounds clearly, and his talents as a storyteller and poet come through as loud and clear as any rumbling riff on a Soundgarden record.
Cornell channels the mystical intensity of Robert Plant on his cover of Led Zeppelin's "Thank You", while imbuing his own vulnerability to the verse. "As Hope and Promise Fade" is an elegiac folk number that sails on the strength of the singer's impressive pipes. "Scar on the Sky" comes to life vividly as Cornell carries the line, "We will rip the night out of the arms of the sun one more time" over a soft acoustic strum.
One previously unreleased gem, "Cleaning My Gun", rises in hypnotic and haunting haze emblematic of Cornell's uncanny ability to make dark subject matter strangely sweet. That juxtaposition also burns bright at the heart of his acoustic take on Audioslave's "Like a Stone", another death rumination that's undeniably beautiful. "Black Hole Sun" remains just as potent stripped back like this and Cornell's take on the "Easter song" John Lennon's "Imagine" is a true tearjerker. Ultimately, Songbook is a classic live album and one of the most powerful in Cornell's catalog.
Music has few individuals left who can grab an acoustic guitar alone and make a sold out crowd laugh, cry, feel, and dream. Cornell is one of the last. Thankfully, we can be sure he'll never "change" either.
Will you be getting Songbook on November 21?
See Chris Cornell's full interview here!
Chris Cornell looks back on "Burden in My Hand" here!
See our review of "The Keeper" and listen to the song here!