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Hard rocker carries on
Chris Cornell - Carry On
Review by Tony BonyataCarry On is the title of powerhouse vocalist Chris Cornell's new solo effort and after fronting both grunge rock progenitors Soundgarden in the late '80s and '90s and supergroup Audioslave (consisting of three Rage Against The Machine bandmembers) for much of this decade, and judging from much of the watered-down fare here it sounds as if carrying on (or more accurately, trudging on) is about all he can do.
There's no doubt that Cornell is blessed with one of the best set of pipes in the rock biz, but as many of the melody-driven numbers on this effort prove, his voice is much better suited for hitting the high notes of clenched-fisted hard rock than pop ditties dressed up with the occasional forced heavy guitar riff, as witnessed on the opening track "No Such Thing." The forty-three year-old singer's voice is further wasted on the sappy arena balladry of "Safe and Sound" where his interpretation of a soulful delivery just sounds affected and out of place. The same can also be said about his gruff, raspy voice going through the motions on the rote rock of "Poison Eye" and "Your Soul Today."
With safe and ultimately forgettable songs like "Hover," "Finally Forever" and "Arms Around Your Love" watering down Cornell's larger-than-life back catalog, it sounds like he's now content to saddle up to the middle-of-the-road mediocrity that has a stranglehold on terrestrial radio today, and unfortunately it turns out to be a waste for such a talented artist.
Surprisingly one of the songs that breaks from his harder rocking past and really works here, is a barren, soulful version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," where Cornell's impassioned voice soars to beautiful heights by song's end, despite a clumsy guitar solo that threatens to muddy the waters. Unfortunately, though, the majority of the material on this effort sounds like a guy who's now happier crooning to pop fluff than kicking out the jams. Perhaps Cornell would be better off leaving the pop balladry to aging sentimentalists like Rod Stewart and Sir Elton and bring back the rock for his next solo outing.
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