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Clear Heart Full Eyes CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Jan. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Full Time Hobby
  • ASIN: B0067XW0MU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,353 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

The Hold Steady’s frontman Craig Finn makes his debut solo outing with Clear Heart Full Eyes. Written in Brooklyn, Finn travelled to the unfamiliar surroundings of Austin to record the album with producer Mike McCarthy (Trail of Dead, Spoon). As always, Finn’s depth of lyricism won’t leave Hold Steady fans disappointed yet there are enough stylistic shifts here to set this apart from his previous incarnation. Here he deals with feelings of solitude (‘Apollo Bay’), heartbreak (‘Not Much Left Of Us’), hope and also reflects on religion (‘New Friend Jesus’).

BBC Review

Craig Finn describes himself as the kind of writer who sits in the back seat of the car driven by his characters, taking notes. For the sake of his sanity and general health, this is doubtless a good thing. On Lord, I’m Discouraged, a song from The Hold Steady’s 2008 album Stay Positive, the Minnesota-born resident of Brooklyn profiles an unrequited love whose life is sliding into the despair of drug addiction. "The sutures and bruises are none of my business / She says that she’s sick but won’t get specific," he sings, later adding: "I know it’s unlikely she’ll ever be mine / So I mostly just pray she don’t die."

To say that Finn is a lyricist of uncommon humanity, not to mention one possessed of a fine attention to detail, is to understate the case. On Clear Heart Full Eyes, he shrouds his tales of foolish people lost on long wanderings on the inexpensive side of the tracks with music that is less dense than that offered by The Hold Steady. That band has been described by American Psycho author and alt-punk expert Bret Easton Ellis as being the finest group in the United States; their sound is a tough one to better. Fans of the group will identify with Finn’s solo flight in no small part due to the distinctive treble-heavy voice and narrative style, but songs such as the sparse Apollo Bay – which sees the narrator drunk on similarly treble-heavy Victoria Bitter in Australia – and the gentle Not Much Left of Us offer something different from the author’s usual work.

But as fine as the music on offer here happens to be – and often it’s very fine indeed – it is Finn’s sense of humanity in lyrical form that really sets this album apart. "From the way you picked up the phone, I could tell you weren’t going to die / February is as long as it is wide," is the opening sentiment of No Future, and an early contender for couplet of the year. Elsewhere figures as diverse as Freddie Mercury and John Lydon are thrown into the mix, characters listen to Ozzy Osbourne and KISS in studio apartments, as well as a whole host of city-dwellers whose lives are led on the serrated edge that separates good people from bad. It is these people, and the fact that their creator has sufficient skill to humanise them and have the listener care about their fate, that makes Clear Heart Full Eyes a work of understated beauty.

--Ian Winwood

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've listened to Clear Heart Full Eyes everyday for the last two weeks. Every listen reveals a new hook, lyric and emotion. The backing band have totally nailed Finn's songs, adding a lightness of touch to the music and vocals. It's a very good album in a very understated way. 5/5.
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I've enjoyed listening to this, at first expecting it to be just a stop-gap release before the next Hold Steady Lp.

I'm pleased to say that it deserves much more attention than that, with Mr Finn delivering a great, understated set
that includes a few tracks that wouldn't be out of place on a HS album, but a few that certainly would.

The laid-back country stylings on Balcony and Western Pier compliment Finn's stories superbly, allowing his lyrics more space to breathe.

A unexpected triumph.
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Craig Finn's solo album covers similar themes to The Hold Steady, i.e. drugs, alcohol, religion and mental illness. This might sound a bit depressing but the ironic lyrics and Craig's maudlin, dead pan vocals are excellent. Stand out tracks include Honolulu Blues, Terrified Eyes and New Friend Jesus.
Anyone who's into Costello, Lou Reed, Dylan etc will love this, give it a try.
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Format: Audio CD
Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes (Full Time Hobby)
On first hearing, it's understandable why Craig Finn's debut solo record was never going to be a Hold Steady album. The small screen Americana that the band play, and excel at - something that coalesces the rock `n' roll abandon of prime-time Replacements with the short stories of Richard Ford - simply doesn't apply on "Clear Heart Full Eyes". Instead Finn brings calmness and a quiet quirkiness to his songs, and lets his words run without confinement.

In interviews he's spoken about songwriters who have stirred his imagination, and a desire to strip back the bluster - though The Hold Steady peddle some of the finest bluster around. Here he sounds like a writer totally familiar with the prime movers of the Texas songwriting tradition; Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, Blaze Foley, etc., together with various new Dylans, including John Prine and Steve Goodman. There's never been any doubting his songwriting prowess, right from the early days of "Almost Killed Me", and here he gets the chance to put his words front and centre. My favourites are many, and I must draw attention to the chugging "No Future" - Freddie Mercury and Johnny Rotten so rarely get to be in the same song together, even Neil Young only managed to squeeze one of them in - and "New Friend Jesus", where Finn get's to talk about his new pal, all to a rather glorious country groove.
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This is a great album. Forget anything you've heard by The Hold Steady, this album is a quantum leap forward. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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