It’s hard to tell how low-key a release this actually is from Chris Cornell, coming out with relatively little PR fanfare but accompanied by a lengthy North American acoustic tour. It affects a certain upfront intimacy but is produced to a high gloss by Brendan O’Brien – one thinks of an unshaven model in a GQ ad, striking a soul-baring pose.
On Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart, Cornell sings with a studious hoarseness, but it’s all a little too embalmed. Further demonstrations of emotional hurt and subtly wrought, blue-eyed blues follow on the embellished likes of Josephine and Murderer Of Blue Skies.
Perhaps Cornell is drawing on the pain he suffered when he had to sue his ex-partner for custody of his 15 guitars a few years back. Still, it’s all a bit glazed over, grungeless, too well finished, lacking the sense of suppurating wounds.
Style-wise, it’s at times deadeningly competent, evoking memories of Springsteen and The Beatles at their commercial heights. On Our Time In The Universe he does cut loose as he proclaims the uncontroversial sentiment that we’re all living right now. It has an Eastern-tinged clamour, but swiftly descends into U2-isms.