The Critics Corner | Albums

Higher Truth Soundgarden frontman makes a big return to solo arena with solid album
Olly Murs
Album name: Higher Truth
Label:  UMG
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Rating: -- 4.0 out of 5

Review written by: Jake Boshold
It has been 6 years since Grunge icon Chris Cornell, formally of the legendary grunge rock band Soundgarden and the post-grunge band Audioslave, has released a solo album. His last solo album, 2009’s Scream, was universally panned by fans and critics alike. This is most likely because of Cornell’s attempt to step outside his usual realm of alternative Rock and adult contemporary and going into electro-pop, which most would agree is not a fitting style for Cornell at all. Cornell is mainly known for his extremely powerful and high-ranging voice, and of course for being one of the key figures in the grunge movement with Soundgarden, who have released 6 albums within their career, including the 1991’s iconic Badmotorfinger, which, along with Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten, helped launch grunge rock and alternative rock in general, into the mainstream, and 1994’s super successful and critically acclaimed Superunknown, which is definitely Soundgarden’s most diverse sounding album, and contains some of their most well-known hits, such as "Black Hole Sun."

As a solo artist, Cornell has not been as successful or acclaimed as he was with Soundgarden, or even with Audioslave. Many would say Cornell’s solo albums are a bit watered down and lack the diversity and power Soundgarden’s albums had. Chris Cornell’s latest output, 2015’s Higher Truth, however, is perhaps Cornell’s most diverse solo project yet, containing songs varying from alternative rock, to folk rock, to post-grunge, to acoustic rock.

The album starts out with "Nearly Forgot My Broke Heart," which begins with a light acoustic guitar sound and then Cornell comes in singing poetic lyrics in an almost-chanting melody, describing metaphorically how a woman came into his life, left him and is now attempting to find a reason to go on. He then emotionally belts out the chorus as the guitars and drums speed up. The album’s second track," Dead Wishes," has a rather folk-like feel to it, and is somewhat of a continuation of the first track, finding Cornell still looking for a will to go on, and a part of himself that’s still alive.

"Before We Disappear" is an acoustic balled track where Cornell is pretty much telling his lover that life is short, and time is moving fast, so we might as well spend it together. "Murderer Of Blue Skies" is an emotional acoustic-to-electric ballad about letting someone in and letting them get to close to you to the point where they destroy your entire life, but the main highlight of this track was definitely Cornell’s powerful vocals near the end. The album’s title track, Higher Truth, is a powerful piano ballad about looking past all of the hate, lies, corruption, and judgment in the world and finding peace within. "Only These Words" seems to be about a king and queen giving birth to their daughter, watching her fall in love and grow up to be a normal girl, rather than being privileged her entire life.  But in her father’s eyes she is still a princess and this song’s theme stands as a metaphor for two parents watching their daughter grow up; perhaps it’s about Cornell himself and his own daughter. "Our Time In The Universe," one of the standout tracks on the album, features acoustic, electric guitars and a violin section playing a Egyptian-esque spacey melody with Cornell beautifully belting out the chorus; the overall message of the song is basically that this is our time to live, so live your life to the fullest.

Higher Truth
is Chris Cornell’s return to form. Cornell has never been this strong as a solo artist and Higher Truth feels like Cornell’s most complete solo album yet. It isn’t quite Soundgarden/Audioslave-quality material, but this is probably the most complete solo output from Cornell we’ll ever get, especially since he is now 51. But even at the age of 51, Cornell’s vocal skills and songwriting skills are still as strong as ever. Highlight tracks include "Our Time In The Universe," "Only These Words," "Higher Truth" and "Murderer Of Blue Skies."
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