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When you think of Eddie Vedder, a ukulele isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. The Pearl Jam frontman debuts his softer side on this solo release, emoting with the help of the tiny four-stringed instrument.
As much as I thought I’d like this album entirely, I found that I was a bit bewildered by most of the songs. Vedder displays moments of his Pearl Jam-esque, throaty growl interspersed with some high pitched crooning, but when accompanied by such a fragile instrument the result is almost comical.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t work on certain songs: ”Can’t Keep” harnesses urgency and power. ”Longing to Belong” is a gorgeous song, heart wrenching as it is. His duet with Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power, on the cover “Tonight You Belong to Me” is beautifully and delicately balanced (more covers are also featured, including “Sleepless Nights” with The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard).
Vedder’s willingness to experiment is almost refreshing, even though it wasn’t as glamorous as I’d figured it would be. It proves that the man is mellowing with age, and while the uke is a graceful instrument, Vedder’s vocal chords aren’t allowing him any peace just yet.
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