In truth, Into The Wild doesn’t sound like a first solo album. It radiates a confidence and maturity that Pearl Jam have lacked on their recent albums.
It’s been a long time coming, but Eddie Vedder has finally released his first solo album. It comes in the shape of a ‘soundtrack’ to Sean Penn’s latest movie, Into The Wild.
However, this isn’t a soundtrack per se, but rather an album of songs written and performed for the movie by the Pearl Jam singer.
Not every song is (entirely) Vedder’s own handiwork. The first single ‘Hard Sun’ is a cover of ‘Big Ha rd Sun’ written by Gordon Peterson of Indio; ‘Society’, meanwhile, was co-written with the Irish-American singer songwriter Jerry Hannan. That they are among the best tunes on the album, however, is no reflection on Vedder’s obvious composition skills.
In truth, Into The Wild doesn’t sound like a first solo album. It radiates a confidence and maturity that Pearl Jam have lacked on their recent albums, the band having produced relatively substandard work since they peaked back in the mid-’90s with No Code and Yield.
The first couple of songs, ‘Setting Forth’ and ‘Far Behind’, would not be out of place on either of those two albums. But Vedder’s solo identity becomes clearer as the album progresses into more melodic – and haunting territory – notably on ‘Long Nights’ and the instrumental ‘Tuolumne’.
Some of the songs seem like brilliant sketches rather than finished works of art: ‘The Wolf’ is only about 90 seconds long, as indeed are ‘Setting Forth’ and ‘No Ceiling’. But that’s a small cavil: powerful and evocative by turn, Into The Wild is a brilliant album.