The 11 songs here, originally recorded between 2003 and 2011, are among those that missed the cut on the six albums made by Pearl Jam and Brad since the release of the Gossard’s first solo album in 2001.
Now newly polished, they’ve been released for download, one per week, since mid-April, and the first eight have also formed the two digital EPs Apollo and Luna. The physical album that herds them all together is vinyl-only.
As those origins suggest, Moonlander is a varied set. Opener I Need Something Different, a new-wavey rocker, could have graced any PJ album, but generally the tracks are closer to Brad. Your Flames is a country-flavoured lament, the title track ethereal and dreamy, Both Live (rhymes with give) – complete with clarinet – is quirky and irresistible, while I Don’t Want To Go To Bed is brooding, almost sinister. The sax and guitar solos that end Tommy Bolin-esque closer Beyond Measure fade too soon, but it’s still beautiful.
Gossard sings every song, adding weight and character to each one to produce a remarkably cohesive album, way better than he might be hinting when he says: “I’m not trying to conquer the world, I’m just saying: ‘Hey, I’ve got to finish stuff’.”