Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Alt Rock Review: Jerry Cantrell - Brighten

Score: 87/100 
Release Date: October 29, 2021
Genre: Alt-Rock, Country-Rock, Grunge, Blues
Similar Artists: Alice in Chains, Mark Lanegan, Thurston Moore

Former Alice in Chains guitarist releases his first solo work in 19 years, and the results are pleasantly compelling. An all-star cast of characters (Duff Mckagen, Gil Sharrone, and Greg Puciato) joined Cantrell in the studio, and Cantrell produced this remarkable work.

Cantrell describes the album as "a journey up through darkness to light." Brighten is filled with space; within that space, Cantrell reflects on the past two decades of healing and growth.  

The opening track, Atone, is one that Cantrell tells us has haunted him for twenty years. It is a soundscape that could serve as a soundtrack for a late-sixties spaghetti western. His grunge has mellowed with age and, as mixed with country and folk, creates something altogether new. 

Prism of Doubt, the most rhythmic and harmonious track, is a triumph of wills in which the singer recognizes his shortcomings, and no matter how his perspective has changed over the years, it is an unshakable prism of doubt that shapes his thoughts.  

The undertones of Brighten are that of a guilty man who feels he has gotten away with something and does not deserve his lot in life. The pathos is palpable and identifiable, yet the story is spun with threads of lessons learned and hope - as if stepping out into the sun after a long season of rain.  

When the dust of Cantrell's not-so-everyday life settles, we're treated to a surprisingly fitting finale, a cover of Elton John's "Goodbye." Here we hear Cantrell's voice in relative isolation, in this reviewer's opinion letting listeners know that what we have just experienced only comes around every few decades and don't expect anything more for quite some time. 
- Tom Endyke | Guitar & Pen

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