Eddie Vedder – Earthling
“Can you hear? Are we clear?”
The opening shouted questions on Eddie Vedder’s first solo album in over a decade captures the boundless enthusiasm apparent over its thirteen tracks. A very different beast from 2011’s restrained ‘Ukulele Songs,’ ‘Earthling’ sees the Pearl Jam hombre go big, bold, and at times, quite Boss like. Grabbing buddies such as Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer, this new album is very much a good old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll record and sounds like it.
With Grammy award-winning producer Andrew Watt (Dua Lipa, Ozzy) at the helm, ‘Earthling’ is very much an album to be blasted from your car stereo as you sing along. It’s organic but punchy as hell while still glimmering with a bit of pop sheen. Vedder himself has never sounded better, his soulful croon erupting over hooky choruses and thrashy breakdowns. Nowhere is this better seen than on single ‘Brother the Cloud,’ Vedder unleashing the demon all over the outro. His mumbled rage still brings a tingle up the spine.
While a fun and energetic record, much of the songwriting falls into the somewhat forgettable. Everyone is bringing their A-game, and they’re having a blast while doing so, but nothing entirely sticks to the ribs. The previously mentioned ‘Brother of Air’ has enough grit and passion to stand out, and the sweet ‘Mrs. Mills’ has a real Aimee Man meets McCartney vibe – and with Ringo featuring on the album that tracks. Trippy swing-infused coda ‘On My Way’ also impresses and makes you wish that a few more moments of reprieve or experimentation were featured.
Still, ‘Earthling’ sounds like precisely the kind of album Vedder wished to make. A celebratory, jubilant record. The noise only a bunch of old-hands eager to cast their worries off could have made. This is Vedder and his most loose and carefree, and in many ways, that alone is worth the price of admission for long-time followers. If we British fans get given a solo tour too, these songs will no doubt ignite in a live setting. Here’s hoping.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
– – –
– – –