Several years ago, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder released a solo LP – Ukulele Songs. It had little to do with his work with Pearl Jam. It was a surprising look at another side of Vedder who was being pigeonholed as strictly grunge. I gained a renewed respect for him after the LP. I like surprises like that. I respect it.
This time multi-platinum selling, award-winning Stone Temple Pilots – not exactly the original lineup – feature new vocalist Jeff Gutt. They began as a grunge band but now embrace several rock styles & diversify (alternative rock, hard rock). While this isn’t about the history of the band, their conflicts & impressive longevity it’s about their dipping their heads into a cold barrel to explore letting go, emotional honesty & starting over. Their heads emerge acoustically refreshed.
On Feb 7th Perdida (Spanish for loss) – their 8th studio LP (Rhino Records) drops. Produced by the band: guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist/acoustic guitar Robert DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz & vocalist Jeff.
“Fare Thee Well,” opens bright & is basically a pleasant simple tune — no showboating. Gutt provides a dense fulfilled vocal that is varied in tone & convincing.
Will diehard Stone Temple Pilots embrace this? Hard to say. While not writers from the school of Tom Waits, or Van Morrison – the STP team does have songs that possess a tight grip on a divergent & simple showcase. They maintain a satisfyingly original style without juvenilia. The title track with a light Spanish flavor adds strings & includes a beautifully played nylon-string guitar. Impressive.
Perhaps what it lacks are gripping scenarios. More ear-tug melodies. But we know the songs are somber, and they do have a bracing beauty. Nothing bombastic. Yet, airier arrangements on some tunes could’ve added lift. The songs can be lyrically vague but that’s a talent some writers strive for. Nonsense is what they don’t want. Nonsense is not here. The musicianship is commendable on “I Didn’t Know the Time” with a disciplined Adrienne Byrne flute.
“Years,” has breathy Robert DeLeo lead vocals reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project’s late Eric Woolfson (“Time”) or Mark-Almond’s Jon Mark – who made a career of low-key lo-fi vocals. It can be captivating to some, & ho-hum to others. On the right song — this voice is endearing. Late at night, this works.
The LP features diversity. An effort was put into this project. “She’s My Queen,” is the most likable. With good Jeff Gutt vocals, Indian drone, pulsing beat, flute & Marxophone (a 1920’s type hammered dulcimer) it’s engaging. Adrienne returns tastefully with a more Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) type flute, brief, but excellently executed.
A 1-2 Parisian beat drives the vintage “Miles Away,” & the old-hat approach is polished, so no retro dust blows about. Bill Appleberry’s piano on “Sunburst,” is an instantly enjoyable tune. A rich melodic feel, refreshing, with renewal to flesh out the somber tone of the LP. This isn’t a regular Stone Temple Pilot LP, but it’s smartly conceived.
10-songs @ 46-minutes – available at Amazon.