Because frontman Craig Finn's voice is the most easily identified part of his band the Hold Steady's sound, one might assume Finn's new solo debut, Clear Heart Full Eyes, would sound like Hold Steady unplugged. This is not the case. Finn's new album is its own animal—more instinctual and organic than the Hold Steady, sans that band's old party tricks.
It comes off a little more like a diary than a play. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the first single, "Honolulu Blues," which finds Finn rambling Dylan-like and describing what sounds like a fever dream set from sea to shining sea. It is the first song ever written to name-drop Graham Greene and Joan Didion in a single verse. The song, Finn says, was written about the touring life and inspired in part by two Didion stories about "the farthest most points of our country being used for devious means." He talked about his own travels with WW.
"I was trying to capture this lifestyle of all this travel. Planes, trains, Honolulu, Maine. It's sort of a discombobulation that happens. You're jet-lagged and there's this idea of being thrust into a show situation. But the worst is actually when you come home and you try to act like a normal human being and not, like, a rock-and-roll dude. It takes a few days. After a long tour, you close your eyes to go to bed and you still think you're moving."
SEE IT: Craig Finn plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., on Thursday, Feb. 23, with Mount Moriah. 9 pm. $12 advance, $14 day of show. 21+.